Court rejects Trump’s bid to stop transgender military enlistments

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Less than two weeks before the Trump administration’s policy barring transgender recruits from joining the U.S. military was set to take effect, a federal court rejected it on Thursday.

Despite the legal battles, the enlistment of transgender recruits will begin on January 1. A three-judge panel on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia decided not to grant the White House a delay after the administration argued that it has not yet put processes in place to screen and accept such recruits.

The Department of Justice said it disagrees with the ruling on Thursday and is considering further steps.

The government’s appeal came after a U.S. district judge in Baltimore halted the proposed ban in November. Thursday’s order leaves President Donald Trump with no other option than to take the decision to the Supreme Court.

Announced in July, the ban reversed an Obama-era policy from 2016, with Trump stating that the federal government “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

He added, “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

Later, the president formally directed the Pentagon to extend the ban on transgender people in the military indefinitely, giving Defense Secretary Jim Mattis six months to come up with a plan on how to deal with those already serving.

The proposed ban led to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) taking on several legal challenges on behalf of six current transgender members of the military.

Celebrating the latest court order, the ACLU put out a statement, saying, “We are happy that the court saw through the government’s smokescreen and rejected its request to further delay the policy allowing transgender people to enlist. The military has already developed comprehensive guidance to prepare for a January 1 start date, and the government failed to offer any credible reason why transgender people should be barred from enlisting if they can meet the same rigorous standards that apply to everyone else.”

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