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Trans Military Ban Can Go Into Effect, Court Says

Trans service member Patricia King testifying before Congress
Trans service member Patricia King testifying before Congress

A federal appeals court has lifted the last barrier to implementation.

Donald Trump's ban on military service members who are transgender can go into effect in April, according to a federal appeals court who lifted the last barrier to it earlier today.

There was still one injunction blocking the ban as of Monday, which was issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit had struck down the injunction in January, but it had not issued its mandate - the final order on the matter - until today, granting the federal government's emergency request for it.

A district court judge had issued the injunction in 2017 maintained it was still in effect, absent the mandate, as did the lawyers representing the current and aspiring trans military members challenging the ban.

But the mandate today means the injunction does not stand, although this lawsuit and three others against the ban are still making their way through the courts. Injunctions in the other suits have already been lifted - two by the Supreme Court, one by the district court judge who issued it.

This means the ban goes into effect and an estimated 13,700 trans service members (out of an estimated 15,000 total) will be kicked out, and other openly trans people will not be able to enlist, as of April 12.

Department of Defense officials released a memo earlier this month saying that by that date, the military will discharge or deny enlistment to anyone who won't serve in the gender to which they were assigned at birth, or who are undergoing hormone therapy or other gender-confirmation procedures.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, representing the service members in this particular case, Doe v. Trump, issued a searing statements in the wake of the most recent news.

"The government's plan is already wreaking havoc in the lives of dedicated transgender troops who must now face the grim choice of suppressing their identity or leaving military service, to the detriment of their fellow service members and national security," the NCLR told The Advocate.

"Today's ruling only drives home the urgency of continuing to fight this destructive policy, which we will continue to do in the district court," the group continued.

GLTBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders focused on how this move will only weaken the military, not strengthen it.

"The strength of our military depends on the integrity of military decision-making. When the courts permit military policies that openly discriminate against qualified service members based on a characteristic that has no bearing on their fitness to serve, it undermines core military values and weakens our nation's defenses," the group stated.

"This is a shameful episode in our nation's history, and one that dishonors the millions of Americans who have sacrificed to serve in our nation's armed forces."

NCLR and GLAD are deciding on whether to petition for a rehearing by the full D.C. Circuit, an NCLR spokesman said.

Meanwhile, several members of Congress are backing legislation to permanently block the ban, and trans troops have testified against the ban before a House subcommittee.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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