Trump doubles down on his efforts to block transgender people from serving in US military

Donald Trump is doubling down in his bid to block transgender people from serving in the US military.

On Friday, the administration filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to sidestep the federal courts, several of which have issued injunctions preventing the president from putting in place a ban on transgender people serving in the military.

“Absent this Court’s prompt intervention, it is unlikely that the military will be able to implement its new policy any time soon,” read the appeal filed Friday by U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco.

Typically, cases wend their way through the lower courts before finally being heard in the Supreme Court, but Trump is seeking an end-run around the standard process. If the president has his way, the case will be heard by the U.S. high court sometime before its current session ends in June 2019.

As ThinkProgress’ Zack Ford reported in September, U.S. district and appeals courts have been unconvinced by the administration’s assertion that “military readiness” and “unit cohesion” would be undermined by the presence of transgender troops in the ranks.

As Ford wrote:

Under the way the ban is currently framed, what matters is whether a service member requires or has undergone gender transition. They can serve if they’ve been diagnosed with gender dysphoria so long as they haven’t transitioned, but people who have transitioned but haven’t been diagnosed with gender dysphoria cannot serve.

The Obama administration lifted the ban on transgender service in June 2016. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but there are estimates of between 4,000 and 10,000 transgender active and reserve service members in the U.S. military at present.

Trump first announced in July 2017 that he planned to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. armed services, in a series of tweets that sent shockwaves through the military establishment.

Courts have not been receptive, however, to the president’s efforts to keep trans people out of the armed forces. They have proved no more willing to entertain the administration’s barely-veiled rewrite last March of what was almost exactly the same discriminatory policy.

In a statement on Friday, Lambda Legal urged the court to reject the administration’s latest request, calling it an attempt to “short circuit” standard legal procedure.

“This highly unusual step is wildly premature and inappropriate, both because there is no final judgment in the case, and because even the preliminary issue on appeal has not yet been decided,” said Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn.

“It seems the Trump administration can’t wait to discriminate. Yet again, the Trump administration flouts established norms and procedures. There is no valid reason to jump the line now and seek U.S. Supreme Court review before the appellate courts have even ruled on the preliminary issues before them.”

Andy Blevins, the executive director of OutServe-SLDN, similarly decried the administration’s “rush to discriminate” against transgender people.

“It is unconscionable that the Trump administration seems to be in such a rush to discriminate against perfectly qualified soldiers, sailors, marines and air force pilots, and patriotic Americans seeking only to serve their country,” said Blevins. “Let the Ninth Circuit have the opportunity to rule on this preliminary issue on appeal.  Let the process play out as it should.”

The legal maneuver is just the latest in a series of attacks by the administration on transgender rights, which appear to be picking up pace alarmingly.

On Friday, the same day the petition was filed in the Supreme Court, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidance protecting transgender people in the workforce disappeared, to be replaced by generic language with no reference at all to transgender people.

The day after President Trump’s inauguration, the White House website discarded its page dedicated to LGBTQ rights and the Labor Department also removed a report on LGBTQ workers’ rights.

And this just last month, news leaked that the Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological and immutable condition determined at birth — its most draconian assault yet on federal civil rights and protections for transgender people.


Source: thinkprogress