Appeals Court Sides With Trump On Transgender Military Ban

Donald Trump has scored his first win in his fight to ban transgender people from the U.S. military as a federal appeals court ruled in his favor today, reports The Washington Post.


A panel of three judges in the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to overturn an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly which prohibited the implementation of the anti-trans policy.

It’s important to note that three other judges have ruled against the trans ban and those injunctions remain in place nationwide. And so, trans soldiers will continue to be able to serve in the U.S. military for now.

In fact, today’s ruling indicates the D.C. Circuit Court may have more to say about the ban later.

The five-page decision handed down today only addressed Kollar-Kotelly’s injunction saying she technically “made an erroneous finding that the Mattis Plan was not a new policy” because she failed to note certain nuances about the plan issued by former Defense Secretary James Mattis.


“The government took substantial steps to cure the procedural deficiencies the court identified in the enjoined 2017 Presidential Memorandum,” the order reads. “These included the creation of a panel of military and medical experts, the consideration of new evidence gleaned from the implementation of the policy on the service of transgender individuals instituted by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (‘the Carter Policy’), and a reassessment of the priorities of the group that produced the Carter Policy.”

While Donald Trump’s July 2017 tweets were a blanket ban on transgender service members, the Mattis Plan would ban from service all transgender people who require or have already undergone gender transition, and bans people with current or recent gender dysphoria diagnosis.

Transgender advocates say gender dysphoria is a literally a defining characteristic of being transgender, and so the Mattis plan is still a full-fledged ban.

Under the Mattis proposal, trans soldiers currently in the U.S. military would be allowed to remain in service.


LGBTQ advocacy groups the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) quickly denounced the ruling in a joint statement.

“Today’s ruling is a devastating slap in the face to transgender service members who have proved their fitness to serve and their dedication to this country,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “We will keep fighting this cruel and irrational policy, which serves no purpose other than to weaken the military and punish transgender service members for their patriotism and service.”

“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 GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi. “It ignores the reality of transgender people’s lives, with devastating consequences, and rests on a complete failure to understand who transgender people are. It is also destabilizing to the military to so dramatically reverse a policy that has been in place for over 2 years that senior military officials acknowledge has operated with no problems.”

A 2016 study by the RAND Corporation found that allowing the estimated 2,000-11,000 active-duty transgender troops to remain in the military would “have minimal impact on readiness and health care costs” for the Pentagon.


The research estimated health care costs for trans soldiers would cost only $2.4 million to $8.4 million a year, which represents a tiny 0.04 to 0.13 percent increase in spending. 

Additionally, the study concluded there would be “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness” in the U.S. military should trans soldiers be allowed to continue serving.

(h/t Washington Post – image via Flickr/photographer Ted Eytan)

Leave a Comment