Saturday, June 30, 2018

Today In 2016, the USA Military Repealed the Ban On Transgender Soldiers, But The Fight Continues

People of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), serve in the armed forces of every country. However, not all armed forces have policies explicitly permitting LGBT personnel. Generally speaking, Western European militaries show a greater tendency toward inclusion of LGBT individuals. Currently, 20 countries allowed transgender military personnel to serve openly: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States. Cuba and Thailand reportedly allowed transgender service in a limited capacity. In 1974, the Netherlands was the first country to allow transgender military personnel.

The United States' military policy previously allowed for exclusion of transgender people from service on medical grounds. While gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members were allowed to serve openly since 2011, transgender service members risked discharge if they did not pass as their assigned sex. This required that service members conceal their gender identities throughout service.

On 22 August 2013, the day after her sentencing at an Army court-martial, U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning (right) issued a public statement declaring herself to be a transgender woman. In 2014, while incarcerated in the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Manning filed a lawsuit against Secretary of Defense Hagel for failing to provide appropriate medical treatment necessary for her gender transformation. In a military first, hormone therapy to assist with Manning's gender conformity was approved in early 2015 and added to her treatment plan along with other provisions such as cosmetics and female undergarments.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James openly supported a change to the military's transgender policy, stating in 2014 that it was likely to be reviewed in the next year or so. In February 2015, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter stated he was open minded about including transgender people in the military and that nothing but individual lack of merit should preclude such people from service. Carter's statement was later endorsed by President Obama.

On August 19, 2015, Carter stated in a memo that the Defense Department had begun the process of dismantling the ban and that transgender people would be able to openly serve in the U.S. military by May 27, 2016. Department of Defense regulations that ban transgender persons from US military service were repealed today, June 30, in 2016. Beginning then, otherwise qualified United States service members could not any longer be discharged, denied reenlistment, involuntarily separated, or denied continuation of service because of being transgender.

On July 26, 2017, out of the blue the new president, Donald Trump, announced that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the US military. The following day, General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that openly transgender people will continue to be allowed to serve until Trump provides direction to James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense.

The Palm Center released, on August 1, 2017, a letter signed by 56 retired generals and admirals opposing the proposed ban on transgender military service members. The letter stated that if implemented, the ban "would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy."

On August 9, 2017, five transgender United States military personnel sued Trump and top Pentagon officials over the proposed banning of transgender people from serving in the military. The suit asks the court to prevent the ban from going into effect. Two major LGBT-rights organizations filed a petition in the United States District Court in Washington on behalf of the five transgender service members.

Trump signed a presidential memorandum, dated August 25, 2017, directing the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Homeland Security to submit an implementation plan by February 21, 2018, to reinstate the ban and halt the use of military funds for "sex reassignment surgical procedures for military personnel." On October 30, 2017, US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly barred the administration from excluding transgender people from military service in Jane Doe v. Trump, but did not address whether federal funds should be used to pay for sex reassignment surgery for service members. The ruling also stated that that as far as could be seen, "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."

In November 2017, the Defense Health Agency for the first time approved payment for sex reassignment surgery for an active-duty US military service member. The patient, an infantry soldier who identifies as a woman, had already begun a course of treatment for gender reassignment. The procedure, which the treating doctor deemed medically necessary, was performed on November14 at a private hospital, since US military hospitals lack the requisite surgical expertise. On December 11, Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the government must accept transgender recruits into the military by January 1, 2018. After the ruling, the Department of Justice appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to issue a stay on the district court's ruling. The Pentagon confirmed on February 26, 2018 that the first transgender recruit had signed a contract to join the military.

On March 23, 2018, President Trump banned transgender and transsexual people with current or previous gender dysphoria from serving in the U.S. military. However, the Pentagon said they would comply with the court decision until it is reversed. The policy was stayed in Karnoski vs. Trump (Western District of Washington) on April 13, 2018, when the court ruled that the 2018 memorandum essentially repeated the same issues as its predecessor order from 2017, that transgender service members (and transgender individuals as a class) were a protected class entitled to strict scrutiny of adverse laws (or at worst, a quasi-suspect class), and ordered that matter continue to a full trial hearing on the legality of the proposed policy.

The Georgia Voice reports on June 18, 2018:

A federally appointed judge just a kibosh on the President’s military transgender ban.

A United States District Judge, Seattle’s Marsha Pechman, struck down the ruling on June 15. Pechman soundly rejected the administration’s request to block transgender people from military service.

Pechman had previously struck down the original ban in April. The administration has planned to appeal that April ruling. While preparing their appeal, the Trump Administration sought to continue to ban during litigation. This June ruling rejects the Administration’s reasoning, and still finds the block unconstitutional.

See full story here

1 comment:

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Makes you wonder who is pushing Trump to do this? Was he watching Fox news and saw a commentary against transgender people, maybe one of the escorts he hired turned out to be a man and there was no p...y to grab. There certainly is a hidden agenda here somewhere, he isn't spending all this time and money in court for no reason.