Judge Denies Trump Request to Delay Transgender Military Enlistment

(CN) – A federal judge on Monday denied a Trump administration request to delay an order requiring the military to begin transgender recruits starting Jan. 1.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly follows an earlier opinion blocking President Trump’s ban on military recruitment of transgender men and women that many believed would have forced the dismissal of currently service members beginning in March.

The government had asked the court to stay the injunction while it’s on appeal at the D.C. Circuit.

“The court will not stay its preliminary injunction pending defendants’ appeal,” Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

Government attorneys had argued that the Department of Defense would be irreparably harmed if forced to accept transgender service members. This failed to sway Kollar-Kotelly, who in a nine-page order, dissected the government’s declaration that the injunction would “impose extraordinary burdens on the Department and the military services.”

“In sum, having carefully considered all of the evidence before it, the court is not persuaded that defendants will be irreparably injured by allowing the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on January 1, 2018,” she added.

Kollar-Kotelly noted that the Department of Defense has already had ample time to get ready, since the directive from former defense secretary Ash Carter to prepare for transgender individuals to join the military was issued on June 30, 2016.

Kollar-Kotelly also pointed to the training of 250 additional medical personnel working nationwide in military entrance processing stations, and a declaration from former Navy secretary Raymond Mabus Jr. that the services had completed most of the necessary preparation.

While the government had hinted in a recent court filing that a new transgender policy is forthcoming, Kollar-Kotelly said she received no details about it.

“The Court is left to speculate,” the order states. “On the one hand, to the extent the policy Defendants foresee adopting in the future is a ban on accessions—which the Court has already concluded is likely to be proven unconstitutional—this is clearly not a reason to stay the injunction in this case.”

Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, says the enlistment of transgender recruits will start Jan. 1 and go on amid the legal battles. He also said the Defense Department also is studying the issue.

Eastburn told The Associated Press on Monday that the new guidelines mean the Pentagon can disqualify potential recruits with gender dysphoria, a history of medical treatments associated with gender transition and those who underwent reconstruction. But such recruits are allowed in if a medical provider certifies they’ve been clinically stable in the preferred sex for 18 months and are free of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas.

Lauren Ehrsam, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said “We disagree with the court’s ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps.

“Plaintiffs’ lawsuit challenging military service requirements is premature for many reasons, including that the Defense Department is actively reviewing such service requirements, as the president ordered, and because none of the plaintiffs have established that they will be impacted by current politics on military service, Ehrsam’s statement said.

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