Transgender military ban goes into effect April 12

Activists protest 45's proposed ban on transgender servicemembers in July 2017. The directive was officially sent on Aug. 25, 2017. (Photo via Flickr, used under Creative Commons)
People protest the Trump administration’s ban on transgender soldiers in August 2017.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense has officially approved a policy that will ban out transgender people from joining the military.

Multiple media reports late Tuesday night said that the Pentagon signed a directive to enforce the policy. Any transgender people who enlist will have to serve as the gender they were assigned at birth. The Hill reported that the directive is being issued after a court last week lifted the last of the orders preventing the transgender military policy from taking effect. The Supreme Court ruled in January that the ban could go into effect.

Advocates said there were still court orders barring enforcement and that they would continue to fight the ban.

“Not only does the Trump-Pence transgender military ban violate the Constitution, but now the administration is also defying a court order,” said Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project director for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “With brazen disregard for the judicial process, the Pentagon is prematurely and illegally rolling out a plan to implement the ban when a court injunction remains in place prohibiting them from doing so.” Levi called the ban immoral and insulting to transgender people who are already serving.

“We will continue our fight in the courts until the ban is permanently blocked, said Shannon Minter, NCLR legal director. “We also strongly support the bipartisan efforts of Congressional leaders to pass urgently needed legislation to protect transgender troops. We urge everyone who cares about the integrity of our military and the wellbeing of our troops to contact your representatives and tell them to support this legislation.”

GLAD and NCLR filed a brief on Wednesday in the D.C. district court opposing the administration’s stated intention to moving forward with implementing the ban.

According to the Hill, the policy will grandfather in currently serving transgender troops or anyone who has already signed an enlistment contract. They can still serve openly. however, starting April 12, people diagnosed with gender dysphoria will not be able to serve unless a doctor certifies they have been stable in their biological sex for 36 months, have not transitioned to the gender they identify with and are willing to serve in their assigned gender. Even if they are diagnosed after enlisting, they will have to serve as their assigned gender. They can be discharged if they refuse to serve as their assigned gender.

Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), told Buzzfeed News the implementation of the rules represented a step backward in the social and civil progress.

“Throughout our nation’s history, we have seen arbitrary barriers in our military replaced with inclusion and equal standards,” Tobin said in a statement. “This is the first time in American history such a step forward has been reversed, and it is a severe blow to the military and to the nation’s values.”

According to the NCTE, an estimated 134,000 American veterans are transgender, and over 15,000 trans people are serving in military.