Federal judge rules that transgender people can sue over military ban

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that transgender people can move forward with a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban on trans people in the military. Stars & Stripes reported this week that U.S. District Judge George Russell in Maryland ruled that transgender men and women who would otherwise be eligible for military service can proceed with their case against the partial ban currently in force. Current servicemembers were grandfathered in with the policy put in place by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Since current members can stay, they won’t be allowed to proceed with the suit, the newspaper said. 

Trump issued the ban back in 2017 and it has been at the center of a legal battle ever since. In March 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the ban could go into effect in April.

Congress

U.S. House passes bill to overturn transgender military ban

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would overturn the Trump administration’s ban on transgender service members. The bill is an amendment from U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020. It would codify the military’s existing equal opportunity policies to include non-discrimination protections on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. “This is a crucial moment for our elected officials to bring accountability to a reckless and lawless policy,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. This bigoted ban has brought chaos to prospective recruits, active duty servicemembers, and countless families forced to watch their dedication and duty soiled by a self-interested President.

Congress

House votes to block transgender military ban

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives voted to block the Trump administration’s transgender military ban on Tuesday night. The Associated Press reported that the House voted for an amendment blocking the ban with at a 243-183 vote. The news service said the move still faces a battle and veto threat against the spending bill it’s a part of. The bill includes military spending. From the Associated Press:
“With so much anger and so much hate in the world today, it is time to be kind to people,” said Rep. Peter Visclosky, D-Ind.

Five states to keep transgender members of National Guard

LAS VEGAS — This week, Nevada joined four other states in allowing transgender people to continue serving in its National Guard. “The State of Nevada does not discriminate against anyone, including and especially servicemembers, based on gender identity or expression,” Helen Kalla, communications director for Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, told The Daily Beast. “Governor Sisolak believes the only criteria to serve in the Nevada National Guard is one’s readiness to serve.”

Other states defying the ban are Oregon, Washington state, New Mexico and California. National Guard is under the control of their respective state’s governor. The online outlet reported that this allows governors to push back against changes in military policy.

U.S. Naval Academy to bar transgender people

ANNAPOLIS — The Defense Department confirmed on Monday that transgender people will be banned from entering the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. The Capital Gazette reported that the policy banning transgender servicemembers will also affect the  academy, which has under previous policy accepted transgender students and retained midshipmen who want to transition during the course of their education. Students who had already enrolled to start in Fall 2019 will be allowed in under the old policy. However, the newspaper reported, for the 2020-21 school year, students will be under the former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ 2018 policy, which brings back restrictions on how transgender people can serve. The policy banning transgender people from enlisting in the military went into effect on Friday, April 12.

Federal employee union calls transgender military ban ‘despicable’

WASHINGTON — The American Federation of Government Employees has condemned the transgender military ban that went into effect on Friday, April 12. From AFGE National Vice President for Women & Fair Practices Jeremy Lannan in a press release:

“At AFGE we have always, and will always, support our troops – with no exceptions. Sadly, that’s more than our president can say now that he has enacted new rules that force transgender individuals to choose whether they want to hide their gender, be given a ‘distressed’ diagnosis by a doctor, or be denied the ability to serve their country. “It cuts me to the core to know that my sisters and brothers who identify by a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth will now be forced to make such an unenviable choice because of a policy that has no actual bearing on someone’s ability to serve in the armed forces. And I’m at a loss for words why President Trump is trying to hurt our military by attacking Americans who just want to serve their country.

U.S. Navy says sailors can dress as preferred gender off duty

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy this week issued guidance that lets sailors to “live socially” as their preferred gender, according to military news website Military.com. The guidelines come as the April 12 deadline to enforce the Trump administration’s ban on transgender service members approaches. From Military.com:
“There is no policy that prohibits the ability of a service member to express themselves off-duty in their preferred gender,” officials said in a recently released Navy administrative message. “Appropriate civilian attire, as outlined in the uniform regulations, will not be determined based on gender.” The guidance does add that deployed sailors may be restricted in off-duty attire choices “to meet local conditions and host-nation agreements with foreign countries” at the discretion of regional commanders and senior officers.

Congress

House votes for resolution opposing transgender military ban

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives voted for a nonbinding resolution that opposes the Trump administration’s ban on transgender servicemembers on Thursday. Politico reported that the House voted 238-185 in favor of the resolution. From Politico:
The measure is the majority Democrats’ first swipe at Trump’s reversal of the Obama-era policy allowing transgender individuals to serve openly, which the president announced in a tweet in July 2017. Democrats have hammered Trump and the Pentagon for undoing the policy on a whim without consulting military leaders. On the House floor Thursday, they slammed the policy as “targeted discrimination” without regard to whether transgender individuals can meet military standards.

Transgender military ban goes into effect April 12

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.