Trump’s transgender military ban closer to implementation

Transgender troops Navy Lt. Commander Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Akira Wyatt, and Dr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, chair-elect of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees speak at the Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing on "Transgender Service Policy."

A federal judge in Maryland has removed another hurdle on the way to implement the Trump administration’s transgender military ban.

The decision was made on Thursday (March 7) in the case of Stone v Trump.

The lawsuit was brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU Maryland and law firm Convington and Burling  on behalf of transgender Navy sailor Brock Stone, a Petty Officer First Class who has served in the military for 11 year, and other transgender soldiers.

Maryland was one of four courts who issued injunctions against the Department of Defense after President Donald Trump first tweeted about the transgender military ban in 2017.

“We will continue to fight against this discriminatory policy and the Trump administration’s attacks on transgender people.”

— ACLU’s Joshua Block

One injunction was lifted by an appeals court in D.C. in early January, a few weeks before the Supreme Court weighed in on the case following a request from the Justice Department.

The Supreme Court lifted two injunctions in California and Washington state, but the one in Maryland remained in place, until Thursday.

US District Judge George Russell III agreed with the Department of Justice that, since the Supreme Court ruled that the policy may go into effect while legal challenges proceed in lower courts, there was no reason to keep the injunction in place, as CNN reported.

As a consequence of the ruling, the Department of Defense is now free to implement the transgender military ban, which would effectively prevent transgender soldiers from openly serving in the military.

Transgender troops pose for a photo in Arlington National Cemetery, from left: retired Army lieutenant colonel Ann Murdoch, Transgender American Veterans Association Vice President Gene Silvestri, Yvonne Cook-Riley, retired Army major and Transgender American Veterans Association President Evan Young, petty officer first class Alice Ashton and retired Air Force major Nella Ludlow

Transgender people will not be allowed to enrol in the military unless they agree to serve in the gender they were assigned at birth. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty)

The Pentagon is currently still implementing an Obama-era policy from 2016 that lifted a ban on transgender troops and allows them to transition and seeking treatment for gender dysphoria while serving.

Pentagon spokesperson Jessica Maxwell told CNN the department is expected to “issue further guidance, which will be forthcoming in the near future,” but until then the 2016 policy will remain in place.

ACLU vows to keep fighting Trump’s transgender military ban

According to the ACLU, there is one more case standing in the way of the transgender military ban—Doe v. Trump, in D.C.

“We will continue to fight against this discriminatory policy and the Trump administration’s attacks on transgender people. Our clients are brave men and women who should be able to continue serving their country ably and honorably without being discriminated against by their own commander in chief,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, in a statement.

Block said the decision is not surprising, but nonetheless disappointing.

“While not surprising, this decision is deeply disappointing for our clients and for transgender service members across the nation. Each and every claim made by President Trump to justify this ban can be easily debunked by the conclusions drawn from the Department of Defense’s own review process,” he said.