The Justice Department was hoping a federal judge would reconsider her earlier ruling saying the military must accept transgender servicemembers as of Jan. 1. But the answer came back no, dealing another blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to ban trans troops.
Federal District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly had already issued an injunction on the ban in October, ruling the 2016 Obama-era policy allowing trans people to join and serve in the armed forces must go into effect on Jan. 1. And on Monday she confirmed that ruling, in response to a Justice Department request for clarification on whether the administration could delay implementing the policy until the Department of Defense could study its impact on “military readiness and lethality.”
The court’s ruling directly opposes the ban President Trump announced via Twitter in July, citing military readiness and financial burden, which left more than 6,000 active-duty transgender servicemembers unsure about their future.
In June 2016 the Obama administration lifted a ban on transgender servicemembers to begin allowing them to enlist on July 1, 2017. In June, Secretary of Defense James Mattis pushed that date back to January 1. President Trump signed a memo effectively putting the ban back in place in August.
Kollar-Kotelly confirmed that the October order was clear: The government must allow transgender people into the military beginning the first of the year.
“Judge Kollar-Kotelly has once again confirmed that there is no legitimate reason to bar transgender people from military service,” said Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center of Lesbian Rights, representing five transgender servicemembers in the lawsuit, in a statement. “We are pleased that Judge Kollar-Kotelly confirmed her prior ruling that on January 1, transgender people who can meet the same qualifications as others will be eligible to enlist.”
But the fight over transgender servicemembers is far from over. The DOJ is considering seeking an emergency stay on the order from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals before it takes effect in several weeks.