Fourth federal court drops final injunction against Trump admin ban on gender-confused soldiers
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Every obstacle to the Pentagon implementing the Trump administration’s ban on gender dysphoria in the U.S. military has finally been cleared away, thanks to a federal court rescinding the last of four injunctions against the controversial, long awaited policy.
Finalized late last March in consultation with former defense secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the policy disqualifies from service “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria,” specifically those who “may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery,” except in “certain limited circumstances.”
Already serving members (who have been estimated to total anywhere from 1,320 to 6,630) may stay but will be treated as members of their biological sex rather than their “gender identity” and held to the dress and grooming standards of the former. Current medical treatment will continue for current members already diagnosed with gender dysphoria, but new transition procedures will not be offered.
The White House said at the time that “extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans,” informed Mattis’s recommendation, which was that troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria presented “considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”
Opponents immediately sued, leading four separate courts to issue temporary injunctions against enforcing the ban. In January, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an injunction by District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, followed by the U.S. Supreme Court staying two others. U.S. District Judge George Russell III ruled in early March that he was “bound by the Supreme Court’s decision” to lift another.
The Pentagon subsequently announced that it would finally begin implementing the policy on April 12, but attorneys representing “transgender” soldiers argued that Kollar-Kotelly’s injunction was still in effect because the D.C. Circuit panel had given the plaintiffs time to seek a re-hearing by the full Circuit.
On Tuesday, however, a D.C. Circuit panel sided with the Trump administration and dissolved the final injunction, The Hill reports. “At the moment, there is no legal barrier to the government’s intended plan to start enforcing the ban on April 12,” Perry Sacks, a spokesman for the plaintiffs’ attorneys, admitted according to the Military Times.
“Anyone who wants to serve their nation is worthy of our nation’s thanks, because not enough do,” Heritage Foundation defense expert and retired lieutenant general Tom Spoehr has written in support of the policy. “A mere desire to serve, however, does not equal qualification.”
He notes that “exhaustive Defense Department clinical and U.S. survey data confirms that individuals with gender dysphoria attempt suicide at rates between eight and 10 times the average” and “severe anxiety again at between eight and nine times the rate of individuals without,” and that “there is no evidence that medical treatment, including gender-reassignment surgery, can remedy those challenges.”
“Stress, anxiety, and suicide are already existential military problems. Indeed, the suicide rate for active-duty military members has been slowly rising over the past couple of decades,” Spoehr explains. “It would, therefore, be reckless and ill-advised to allow individuals demonstrably at a higher risk of suicide and anxiety to join the military and be subject to the increased stresses of military duty — both for the readiness of their units and for the safety of the individual.”
Tuesday’s victory for the Trump administration does not resolve the challenge to the policy’s legal merits, however. “Today’s ruling only drives home the urgency of continuing to fight this destructive policy, which we will continue to do in the district court,” declared National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) legal director Shannon Minter.