The Trump administration is seeking to delay enlistment of transgender people in the military, which a federal judge has ruled must start January 1.
The administration has filed a motion for an emergency stay of U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s order that the military begin accepting transgender recruits that date, the Associated Press reports. It has asked for a ruling by Monday.
“Compelling the military to implement a new accessions policy while it is simultaneously completing a comprehensive study of military service by transgender individuals that may soon result in the adoption of different accessions standards would waste significant military resources and sow unnecessary confusion among service members and applicants,” the Justice Department's motion says, according to Politico.
Kollar-Kotelly had ruled in October that the ban on military service by trans people, announced by Donald Trump in July, must be blocked while a lawsuit against it proceeded through the courts. The suit, brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Advocates and Defenders on behalf of several current and aspiring trans service members, was the first of four suits brought against the ban. A second federal judge has since blocked the ban in response to another of the suits.
Kollar-Kotelly, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, clarified last month, in response to another Justice Department inquiry, that her injunction extended to lifting the indefinite ban on enlistment of trans troops. It returns the policy to what it was before Donald Trump made his infamous July tweet announcing the reinstatement of the ban, which had been lifted under President Barack Obama — transgender people already in the military can continue serving, need not fear discharge just for being trans, and can obtain insurance coverage for transition-related health care, and enlistment of new trans troops can begin January 1. The Obama policy had called for new enlistments to begin July 1 of this year, but Trump’s Defense secretary, James Mattis, had announced a six-month delay shortly before that date. Trump’s reinstatement of the ban would extend that delay indefinitely.
LGBT activists criticized the Justice Department’s new motion. “This is the government’s further efforts to put off what the judge has ordered, which is that transgender people have to be allowed to enlist as of Jan. 1,” Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, told Politico. “The government has known this for a long time — both before the lawsuit, and since the judge ordered the military not to reverse the policy it had adopted allowing transgender people to enlist.” GLAD and NCLR have until Friday to reply to the motion in court.