Political News

Transgender People Will Be Allowed to Enlist in Military as Court Case Advances

Posted December 11, 2017 2:48 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON — Transgender people will be allowed to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, Defense Department officials said Monday, a move that pauses President Donald Trump’s effort to bar transgender troops.

A federal judge declined to halt an October order pausing the ban, pending further legal review. The judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court in Washington, said in a ruling Monday that the ban likely violates constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

She rejected the Trump administration’s argument that it needs more time to prepare to process new transgender recruits for military service.

“The court is not persuaded that defendants will be irreparably injured by allowing the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on Jan. 1, 2018,” she wrote.

The White House said the administration was reviewing its legal options. A Defense Department official said its move was partly a result of a barrage of lawsuits filed after Trump announced that he was barring transgender people from serving in the military.

Trump announced the ban in a series of tweets in July. He said then that he had decided to do so after consulting with generals and military experts, although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was given only a day’s notice.

Since then, the Pentagon has slow-walked Trump’s order, telling transgender members of the military that they could continue to serve openly while the Pentagon decided how to handle the ban.

Defense Department officials said that new guidelines, a reinstatement of former President Barack Obama’s opening of the military to transgender recruits and first reported by The Associated Press, mean that new recruits will have to undergo medical tests before enlisting.