A federal appeals court gave President Trump a win Friday in a case defending the administration’s policy limiting certain transgender people from serving in the military.
The federal circuit court in D.C. ruled the lower court erred in issuing an injunction against the president’s policy, saying the plan wasn’t a “blanket transgender ban.”
The court said former Security of Defense James Mattis’ plan had been developed with the help from military officials and medical professionals. It focused on limiting the service of transgender people who suffer from gender dysphoria and refuse to serve under their biological sex.
“Although today’s decision is not a final determination on the merits, we must recognize that the Mattis Plan plausibly relies upon the ‘considered professional judgment’ of ‘appropriate military officials,’” the court ruled in an unsigned opinion.
There are still other injunctions in place that had been issued by lower courts against the administration’s policy, so the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to step in.
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter formally lifted the ban on transgendered citizens serving openly in the U.S. military last year. Under that policy initiated by Mr. Carter, transgendered individuals would have been able to enlist into the services by July.
Those plans came to a halt when Mr. Trump announced plans to ban all transgender citizens from enlisting and separating all transgender troops currently in uniform. The announcement came as Mr. Mattis was in the midst of a six-month review of the Obama-era policy.
Since the August announcement, federal courts have ruled the White House’s ban as unconstitutional while the transgender ban policy continues to face other challenges in the judiciary.
Transgendered recruits were allowed to enlist beginning Jan. 1 after being subjected to a slew of physical, psychological and medical requirements before being considered for military service, pending the release of the military’s recommendations to the White House.
The new standards for transgendered enlistment include certification that a recruit has been deemed “clinically stable” in their preferred sex for 18 months, and do not suffer from marked stress or impairment tied to their selected gender during certain scenarios tied to military service.
The first transgender recruit officially signed up for the U.S. military last February, little over a month since the White House’s call for a ban on service for those citizens. The issue has become a cultural touchstone between proponents of the ban who argue the military has been repeatedly subjected to progressive social engineering efforts.
Opponents of the ban say the exclusion of transgender troops violates those individuals’ civil rights.
LGBTQ advocates decried Friday’s ruling.
“Today’s decision is based on the absurd idea that forcing transgender people to suppress who they are in order to serve is not a ban,” said Jennifer Levi, director at GLAD Transgender Rights Project.
Aaron Belkin, director at the Palm Center, a progressive research group, said if courts allow the administration’s policy to go into effect, it would degrade the “readiness and cohesion” in the armed forces.
“The Mattis policy that the D.C. Circuit upheld is a full ban on transgender troops that would have the same impact as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ undermining readiness by forcing troops to live a lie, stigmatizing them, and prompting the discharge of honorably serving personnel,” he said.
But conservative advocates said Friday’s ruling allows members of the military to focus on their missions instead of “social engineering.”
“The appeals court ruling helps pave the way for President Trump to continue moving the military away from Obama era political correctness which left our nation’s defenses at its lowest levels of readiness since before WWII,” said retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin, executive vice president for the Family Research Council.