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US Supreme Court Says Transgender Military Ban Can Go Ahead

Congressional Leadership is Long Overdue

People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. © 2017 Reuters

The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday gave a green light for the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender military service to take effect.

When the ban was announced, it met with opposition not only from the public and some military leaders, but from senators on both sides of the aisle. Senators Joni Ernst, Richard Shelby, and John McCain, among others, spoke out against the discriminatory ban, with McCain cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to end it.

Despite this initial backlash, nobody has introduced legislation into the new Congress to allow transgender people to continue to enlist.

President Donald Trump first announced the ban in July 2017 in a series of tweets saying that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

The ban was instantly challenged in a series of lawsuits, and federal judges originally stopped the policy from taking effect as those lawsuits proceeded. The Supreme Court’s decision, however, lifts two of the injunctions that prevented the ban from taking effect. The remaining injunction will likely be lifted in the wake of the Court’s action, allowing the ban to take effect.

In February 2018, Secretary of Defense James Mattis drew up a policy that prohibits transgender people with a history of gender dysphoria – a medical condition of discomfort with one’s sex assigned at birth – from serving in the US military. The policy allows those who are currently serving to continue to do so, but adds that those who “require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service.”

As the ban is volleyed through the federal courts, the lives and careers of transgender service members hang in the balance. It’s well past time for Congress to turn words into actions and put a stop to this discriminatory farce of a policy. 

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