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Admin Requests Delay of Court Order to Start Accepting Transgender Troops on January 1

by Countable | 12.7.17

UPDATED – December 7, 2017: The Trump administration has filed a request in federal court for a delay in the requirement to start accepting transgender troops as of January 1, reports The Hill. Administration lawyers argued that the deadline couldn't be met because there wasn't adequate time for training and other preparations:

"Given the complex and multidisciplinary nature of the medical standards that need to be issued and the tens of thousands of geographically dispersed individuals that need to be trained, the military will not be adequately prepared to begin processing transgender applicants for military service by January 1, 2018, and requiring the military to do so may negatively impact military readiness."

However, Pentagon spokesperson Army Major David Eastburn stated in recent days that the military was taking appropriate steps to prepare for the deadline:

"While reviewing legal options with the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense is taking steps to be prepared to initiate accessions of transgender applicants for military service on January 1, 2018, per recent court orders."

The administration and the plaintiffs have requested a response to the stay request by Monday.


UPDATED – November 22, 2017: The Washington Post reports that a second federal judge in U.S. District Court has completely halted the Trump administration's ban on transgender service members, stating that they are “already suffering harmful consequences” because of the president’s policy.

This latest ruling goes further than the late October ruling, in that it prevents the administration from blocking funding for sex-reassignment surgery for active service members.

Estimates vary on the number of active duty service members who are transgender, ranging from 2,500 to 15,500. Transgender service members are allowed in the militaries of 18 other countries around the world.


UPDATED – October 30, 2017: A U.S. district judge in Washington, D.C. has blocked the Trump administration’s ban on transgender service members while the case makes its way through court. The judge ruled that, for now, the military's transgender policy will “revert to the status quo” of what it was before President Donald Trump’s announcement. The previous policy allows transgender people to enlist in the military and serve openly. However, the judge has not blocked the section of the presidential memorandum that banned military resources from funding “sex reassignment surgical procedures.”

Countable’s earlier story appears below.


What’s the story?

President Donald Trump signed a directive Friday that instructs the military to reinstate its pre-June 2016 policy prohibiting transgender individuals from serving openly in the armed forces. The reversal comes because "there remain meaningful concerns that further study is needed" to ensure that allowing such individuals to serve wouldn’t “hinder military effectiveness or lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources”.

Why does it matter?

In June 2016, the Obama administration proposed a change Dept. of Defense (DOD) policy to let transgender individuals serve in the military, allow DOD funds to be used on sex-reassignment surgeries, and enlist transgender recruits after July 1, 2017.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis delayed the policy from taking effect on June 30, 2017 and on July 26, 2017 President Donald Trump tweeted that he would reverse the Obama administration’s policy on the issue. Trump’s tweets were criticized for a lack of clarity about the policy change and how it would affect transgender personnel currently serving in the military.

Supporters of military service by transgender individuals argue that any American who meets the necessary medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve in the armed forces. They also cite a study by the RAND Corporation which found that annual costs to the military of covering sex-reassignment therapy would be between $2.4 and $8.4 million, and that it’d have a "minimal likely impact on force readiness".

Opponents argue that in a time of budget constraints, the military shouldn’t be expected to spend money on sex-reassignment surgeries for transgender personnel. They also cite estimates from the RAND study which indicate that depending on their treatment, transgender troops could be considered nondeployable for up to 135 days.

RAND found that while undergoing hormone therapy only would have no impact on deployability, a hysterectomy for an individual transitioning from female-to-male would lead to an estimated 111 nondeployable days and genital surgery for an individual transitioning from male-to-female would cause an estimated 135 nondeployable days.

Trump's directive calls on the Depts. of Defense and Homeland Security to develop an implementation plan for this policy by February 21, 2018 that addresses the status of transgender individuals currently serving in the military.

Tell your reps what you think of the Trump administration’s decision to reinstate the ban on military service by transgender individuals using the Take Action button.

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— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: USAF - A2C Janiqua P. Robinson / Public Domain)

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