Pentagon signs directive to implement transgender military ban
The Pentagon announced Tuesday night that a directive has been signed to implement President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: Socialism ‘easy to campaign on but tough to govern on’ Stone’s defense denies using court to generate publicity for his book release Ocasio-Cortez: Trump sets tone of ‘misogyny, racism, conspiracy theory-ism’ MORE‘s policy barring most transgender people from serving in the military.
Under the policy, transgender people who join after it takes effect will have to serve in the gender they were assigned at birth. Service secretaries will be allowed to grant waivers on a case-by-case basis.
The policy will go into effect in 30 days, according to the memo signed by acting Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist.
The directive is being issued after a court last week lifted the last of the orders preventing the transgender military policy from taking effect.
A federal judge in Maryland ruled he had no choice but to lift the injunction after the Supreme Court in February ruled 5-4 to lift two other holds.
Still, advocates for transgender troops have argued the Pentagon is still constrained by a fourth injunction, pointing to a stipulation in the order that allows for a period of time for the plaintiff to decide whether they want a rehearing in front of the court’s full bench.
“With brazen disregard for the judicial process, the Pentagon is prematurely and illegally rolling out a plan to implement the ban when a court injunction remains in place prohibiting them from doing so,” Jennifer Levi, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) transgender rights project director. GLAD is one of the co-counsels in the lawsuit at issue.
“In addition to being unlawful, moving forward with this ban is also deeply immoral and deeply insulting to the many transgender troops who are bravely serving their country,” Levi added.
That 21-day period, though, ends before the memo signed Tuesday says the new policy takes effect.
Transgender troops have been serving openly since June 2016, when the Obama administration lifted the previous ban on their service.
In July 2017, Trump tweeted he would reverse the open service policy, saying he would “not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
Four lawsuit were filed against the ban, and lower courts in all four had issued injunctions blocking the policy from taking effect while the suits work their way through the court system.
In March 2018, then-Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisGOP rep: ISIS ‘absolutely not’ defeated as a movement Why block citizenship to immigrants who defend America? Trump plans to implement transgender military ban after court ruling MORE released a policy that would allow transgender people to serve if they do so in their biological sex. Tuesday’s directive implements the Mattis policy.
The policy will grandfather-in currently serving transgender troops or anyone who has already signed an enlistment contract, allowing them to continue serving openly.
But after April 12, people diagnosed with gender dysphoria will not be able to serve unless a doctor certifies they have been stable in their biological sex for 36 months, have not transitioned to the gender they identify with and are willing to serve in their biological sex.
If they are diagnosed after they join the military, they have to continue serving in their biological sex.
Troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria can be discharged if they are “unable or unwilling to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with their biological sex,” the memo says.
The Pentagon denies the Mattis policy is a ban, but advocates argue it effectively is, comparing it to the defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.
Though courts have ruled to lift the injunctions, they have not ruled on the underlying merits of the lawsuits against the policy. Advocates are vowing to continue their fight, expressing confidence they will eventually be victorious.
“Our transgender siblings-in-arms and future warriors have proven time and again that they are committed, that they are ready, and that they are able to selflessly and effectively serve our nation,” OutServe-SLDN executive director Andy Blevins said in a statement. “We will continue to fight until open and authentic military service is the law of the land – our service members deserve it and our country needs it.”