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A federal appeals court in Washington sided with the Trump administration Friday, saying restrictions on transgender men and women serving in the military can stand.
The decision lifted an injunction that had barred the government from limiting transgender people’s service.
The unsigned order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has no immediate impact on transgender troops because federal judges in three other cases have temporarily prevented the administration from implementing its policy.
The Defense Department is continuing to abide by the other court orders that allow transgender men and women to enlist and serve, the Pentagon said Friday.
Even so, the five-page ruling was a blow to the civil rights and gay rights organizations challenging the policy nationwide. In reversing a lower-court ruling, the appeals court wrote, “the District Court made an erroneous finding that the [administration’s policy] was the equivalent of a blanket ban on transgender service.”
The appeals court order came after oral argument last month before Judges Thomas B. Griffith, Robert L. Wilkins and Stephen F. Williams.
The court noted that its order was not a final ruling on the merits of the challenge, but that judges must give deference to military leaders when it comes to policy decisions about standards for service.
Attorney Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s transgender rights project, said the decision is “based on the absurd idea that forcing transgender people to suppress who they are in order to serve is not a ban. It ignores the reality of transgender people’s lives, with devastating consequences, and rests on a complete failure to understand who transgender people are.” GLAD is an acronym for GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders.
President Trump announced a sweeping ban on transgender people’s military service via Twitter in July 2017, citing what he viewed as the “tremendous medical costs and disruption.” The administration’s order reversed President Barack Obama’s policy of allowing transgender men and women to serve openly and receive funding for sex-reassignment surgery.