US military to accept enlistments from transgenders... albeit reluctantly
As of January 1, after court ruling, military will accept openly transgender recruits
Many transgender Americans are of the opinion that the courts will eventually restrict President Donald Trump from banning their enlistment in the armed forces. Their confidence has led them to openly enlist for the US military for the first time after a long history filled with shame and dispute.
Back in August 2017, Trump had issued a ban on the transgender military service enlistment. Last fall, US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly blocked the decision taken by the Trump administration by reinstating enlistment privileges to the trans community.
The Department of Defense announced in December that it would allow members of the trans community to openly take part in the armed forces in 2018.
District Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote in a solid statement of more than 70 words: “There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effects on the military.”
A special case of a 37-year-old transgender man, Nicholas Bade, who wanted to enlist in the forces since he was a kid, is being looked upon as one of the first in a remarkable list of enlistments that liberal advocates expect to see in 2018.
Bade exclaimed as he made his way to the Chicago Air Force Recruiting office, "I just couldn't face the idea of doing it as a traditional female!"
President Trump is expected to take a call regarding the future of transgender enlistments in March. To help the President arrive at a plausible decision, a Pentagon review of the issue will be drafted and sent to the White House in February.
24-year-old Nicholas Talbott of Ohio, one of the challengers of Trump's ban has commented:
"We're definitely not out of the woods yet, but we have so much momentum."
On Monday, US District Court Judge Marsha Pechman issued another ruling blocking Trump's ban on transgender enlistments, with regards to the case of a soldier from Washington and two hopefuls from the trans community looking to join the military.
Pechman argued that the Trump administration cannot portray the current military situation as an emergency considering the fact that they filed for an appeal a whole three weeks after their decision was blocked by the aforementioned federal judge. She also states that the trans plaintiffs have a strong case and that she was "not convinced by the vague claims" presented by Trump.
In the final line of her verdict, she concluded, "If complying with the military's previously established January 1, 2018 deadline to begin accession was as unmanageable as Defendants now suggest, one would have expected Defendants to act with more alacrity."
The Department of Defense is respectful of the court's verdict but has asserted that they are allowing transgender enlistments in reluctance.
In a statement released by a pentagon spokesperson, they have stated, "This policy will be implemented while the Department of Justice appeals those court orders. DoD and the Department of Justice are actively pursuing relief from those court orders in order to allow an ongoing policy review scheduled to be completed before the end of March."
In July, Trump tweeted that "the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Having said that, the President has softened his stance on the issue and had later tweeted saying that openly transgender applicants who want to join the military are not entitled to use federal funds for sexual reassignment surgeries. He ultimately gave the the discretion to remove currently serving transgenders from the forces to the defense secretary.
Following up to it, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced a few days later that trans troops could hold their positions for the time being.
As of now, until the courts reach a final verdict on the admission of transgenders and until the lawsuits against President Trump's ban are closed, the Department of Defense will uphold the current ruling that was passed on Monday — which temporarily allows trans members to apply for recruitment without any restrictions, and permanently if the said lawsuits are won by the plaintiffs.
Director of the Palm Center, Aaron Belkin told NPR's Greg Myre, "Today's announcements — both by the court and the Pentagon — signal that there is an awareness that it's not right to make military policy by tweets. And when there's a deliberate process of study, then that process should be respected and implemented."
The Palm center works for the cause of the trans community in the military.
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