Military Must Allow Trans Recruits to Enlist in January, Judge Rules

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On Monday, a federal judge clarified an earlier ruling that prevented the military from implementing President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military while the case was still in court—the Defense Department must allow trans recruits to enlist by Jan. 1 as planned, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled.


Previously, Kollar-Kotelly issued an injunction against the order—ruling that the government must revert to “the status quo” which was set forth by President Obama. In June, Defense Secretary James Mattis delayed the Obama-era policy allowing trans troops to enlist from July 1, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018.

As BuzzFeed News noted, the Justice Department asked Kollar-Kotelly to clarify whether Mattis could continue delaying the policy’s implementation while the case was still being deliberated in court. Kollar-Kotelly said on Monday that the Defense Department must allow trans troops to enlist on Jan. 1 as planned:

The Court explained that the effect of its Order was to revert to the status quo with regard to accession and retention that existed before the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum—that is, the retention and accession policies established in the June 30, 2016 Directive-type Memorandum as modified by Secretary of Defense James Mattis on June 30, 2017. Those policies allowed for the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on January 1, 2018. Any action by any of the Defendants that changes this status quo is preliminarily enjoined.

Kollar-Kotelly’s decision follows yet another loss for Trump’s trans ban. Last week, a federal judge in Maryland, U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis, ruled that the ban “cannot possibly constitute a legitimate governmental interest” and issued a wide injunction against Trump’s executive order—including its directive prohibiting the military from paying for service members’ gender-affirming surgery.

Night Editor, Splinter