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Trump’s policy barring transgender troops gets denied

Sophie Jejurikar, Staffer

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On Monday Oct. 30, a federal judge temporarily blocked the White House policy excluding transgender troops from being in the military. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the District Court for the District of Columbia found the administration’s justification for the ban to be dubious and illegitimate. She issued a strongly worded 76-page ruling which stated that the policy was based solely on the disapproval of transgender people generally, and that the military’s current policy should remain in place.

“There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effective on the military at all,” Kollar-Kotelly said. “In fact, there is considerable evidence that it is the discharge and banning of such individuals that would have such effects.”

The ruling was seen as an encouraging step for supporters. It stops the plan to discharge transgender troops, allows current transgender troops to re-enlist and permits transgender recruits to join the military starting in January. Trump originally announced the policy in July through a series of Twitter messages. He stated that American forces could not afford the tremendous medical costs and disruption of transgender troops and that the United States Government would not accept or allow them to serve in any part of the U.S. Military. A presidential memorandum was released in August, requiring all transgender troops to be discharged starting in March 2018.

Civil rights groups immediately sued the administration on behalf of all transgender service members, arguing that the ban was discriminatory and violated their constitutional right to due process and equal protection under the law. Transgender Petty Officer Eva Kerry, who is training to operate nuclear reactors, said that she was dreading the end of her beloved Navy career until the ruling was announced.

“I remain optimistic that the Constitution I swore an oath to will continue to protect the rights of all Americans,” Kerry said.

The announcement surprised many military members, who had been planning on moving forward with integrating transgender troops into service. A 2016 study commissioned by the military found that allowing transgender people to serve the country would have minimal impact on health care costs for the Pentagon. Health care costs would rise about $2.4 million to $8.4 million year, representing an almost unnoticeable 0.04 to 0.13 percent increase in spending. The study also predicted little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness.

Many transgender troops are hopeful after this ruling, but continue to worry because they could still be discharged. Transgender troops are just as willing to serve the United States and attend to the work that needs to be done.

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