Federal judge blocks part of Trump’s transgender military ban — here’s what you need to know

Federal judge blocks part of Trump’s transgender military ban — here’s what you need to know
A federal judge blocked enforcement of the key part of President Trump's transgender military ban Monday. The ruling prohibits the Pentagon from banning new transgender recruits from enlisting while the issue is being reviewed in court. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

What happened?

United Stated District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly blocked enforcement of the key part of President Trump’s transgender military ban Monday, saying the reasons for the ban “do not appear to be supported by any facts.”

Which part of Trump’s memo was blocked?

The court order prohibits the Pentagon from banning new transgender recruits from enlisting while the issue is being reviewed in court. The judge also added that she believed the plaintiffs challenging Trump’s military transgender ban would ultimately win their case based on their argument that the ban violates their Fifth Amendment rights.

“The court finds that a number of factors — including the sheer breadth of the exclusion ordered by the directives, the unusual circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement of them, the fact that the reasons given for them do not appear to be supported by any facts, and the recent rejection of those reasons by the military itself — strongly suggest that Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment claim is meritorious,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her order, referring to Trump’s decision to announce the move on Twitter before issuing formal guidance on the matter.

Which part gets to stay?

Trump’s memo, which he formally issued in August, not only banned new transgender recruits from joining the military, but it also issued guidance instructing the Pentagon not to pay for any more gender reassignment surgeries for military personnel.

Kollar-Kotelly determined that part of the ban — prohibiting taxpayer money from being used to fund gender reassignment surgeries — could stay.

What else do you need to know about the court order?

The Trump administration boasted a significant cost-savings as a major reason for the policy change, but the judge pushed back on that argument, saying that studies have indicated the savings would not amount to much.

“As far as the court is aware at this preliminary stage, all of the reasons proffered by the president for excluding transgender individuals from the military in this case were not merely unsupported, but were actually contradicted by the studies, conclusions and judgment of the military itself,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote, referring to the military’s 2016 Obama-era study that led to allowing openly transgender military recruits.

What happens next?

The order is in effect only while the case is still being heard in court, and a final decision on the case once it has concluded will determine what happens to Trump’s ban.

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