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Transgender people can enlist in military on January 1, judge says

29 November 2017

A federal court on Monday issued a clarification that the US military must take transgender service members by January 1, after partially blocking President Trump's transgender policy in an earlier ruling.

A federal judge has ruled that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis can not further delay opening the military to transgender recruits, which clears the way for transgender people to enlist January 1.

In October, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction which largely blocks Trump's ban.

"I am directing the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the U.S. Coast Guard, to return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016 until such time as a sufficient basis exists upon which to conclude that terminating that policy and practice would not have the negative effects discussed above".

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Mattis issued his memo on June 30 to delay transgender enlistments, which were set to begin at that time as result of a policy change during the Obama administration under Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, until January 1 in response to a request from military service chiefs for more time to implement the policy.

In the ruling Monday, Kollar-Kotelly clarified Mattis can't delay the date further and the military must continue to follow the Obama administration's transgender recruiting policies by January 1, 2018. Trump Defense Secretary James Mattis had already pushed that date back to January 1, 2018 before Trump's fateful tweets.

"Any action by any of the Defendants that changes this status quo is preliminarily enjoined", Kollar-Kotelly wrote in the Monday memo. But opponents of Trump's ban can celebrate another win with Kollar-Kotelly's latest ruling allowing for the enlistment of transgender military servicepeople.

He then issued a presidential memo to the Department of Defense ordering them to reverse President Obama's policy of allowing transgender individuals to serve openly and receive related medical treatments.

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In August, the judge released a lengthy memo accompanying her ruling in which she said the plaintiffs in the case, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, are likely to succeed by arguing that the president's transgender ban violates their Fifth Amendment right to due process.

Another federal judge, Marvin J. Garbis of the Federal District Court for Maryland, also halted the policy that would have discharged all current transgender troops and prevent them from enlisting in the military.

A that time, a Justice Department spokeswoman, Lauren Ehrsam, told the Associated Press that the injunction was "premature" because the Pentagon "is actively reviewing" transgender service requirements.

President Donald Trump's administration is already appealing the October decision.

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Transgender people can enlist in military on January 1, judge says