SCOTUS: Transgender ban goes forward as legal fights proceed

Matt Saintsing
January 22, 2019 - 10:14 am

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The US Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration’s ban on most transgender people from serving in the military to go into effect.

In a 5-4 vote, the Court placed a temporary hold on lower court decisions that previously blocked Trump’s proposed ban from going forward. Rather than vote on the proposed policy outright, the Justices allowed the ban to go forward until the court cases proceed. 

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Brewer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagen dissented from the majority opinion. 

Transgender troops have been serving openly since June 2016, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted the longstanding policy prohibiting their service. 

Currently, the Trump administration allows transgender people to serve openly if they began their gender transition in line with the Obama-era policy. However, anyone looking to start transitioning while in the military will be barred, and anyone who already transitioned cannot join. 

The Pentagon released a statement clarifying what the Supreme Court ruling means. 

"As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity. DoD's proposed policy is NOT a ban on service by transgender persons. It is critical that DoD be permitted to implement personnel policies that it determines are necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world. DoD's proposed policy is based on professional military judgment and will ensure that the U.S. Armed Forces remain the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world," said Air Force Lt. Col. Carla Gleason. 

President Trump announced in July 2017 a far-reaching tweet through Twitter, referencing medical costs. 

Active-duty service members took the ban to court looking to block Trump’s policy change, which could deny them specialized medical care and could mean they’ll be kicked out. 

The military was forced to allow transgender troop on Jan. 1, 2018 when a federal judge ruled so. In December, however, the administration asked the Supreme Court to allow the ban after the lower courts froze it. 

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

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