The Department of Justice has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Donald Trump’s ban on transgender military service members to go into effect while waiting on SCOTUS to decide whether or not to even take the case up for review.
Apparently, the United States is in a state of emergency regarding the few thousand transgender people currently serving with honor in the U.S. military.
I know - it doesn’t make any sense.
Let’s go back a bit, shall we?
In July of 2017, President Trump surprised American military leaders and the world when he announced his plan to ban trans military service members after “consultation with my Generals and military experts” due to the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender service members.
Remember, this is the guy who told Americans during the 2016 presidential campaign that he would ‘fight’ for the LGBTQ community.
Conservatives loved the idea; Liberals and LGBTQ activists were outraged.
In the ensuing months, numerous injunctions were ordered by judges blocking the implementation of the policy, and for good reason.
Not only has The American Medical Association (AMA) issued a statement saying there is ‘no medically valid reason’ for banning transgender people from serving in the United States military, but all four service chiefs (Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force) have testified they’ve seen no negative effects from transgender military personnel serving the country they love.
According to a 2016 RAND Corporation study, there are an estimated 1,320 to 6,630 transgender individuals out of the 1.3 million service members on active duty.
That same study estimated the cost of health care coverage for transgender personnel could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year, which is about one-fifth of what the Department of Defense spent on Viagra in 2014.
Then, earlier this month, Department of Justice Attorney Brinton Lucas told the D.C. Circuit Court that if the Trump policy were to be implemented, transgender troops would not be “discharged on the basis of their transgender status.”
(Wait for it…)
But, they would have to identify as the biological sex assigned to them at birth meaning they would have to stop any transition-related medical treatment - treatment that every major medical association has deemed necessary and life-saving for trans people.
Then, over Thanksgiving weekend, the Trump administration bypassed the appeals court process and requested the Supreme Court review the case before the circuit level courts even issue their opinions.
This isn’t a very popular approach as SCOTUS doesn’t like to review a case before it has made its way through the lower courts.
The high court likes to have cases work their way through traditional channels so they have the benefit of the opinions of lower court judges by the time cases reaches SCOTUS.
This week, the Trump administration filed emergency briefs asking the high court to allow the transgender ban to go into effect until SCOTUS can review the case in 2019.
According to Think Progress, the emergency briefs claimed waiting any longer to boot transgender military service members poses “too great a risk to military effectiveness and lethality” and it would be “contrary to the Nation’s interests.”
But such arguments have gained little traction in the past.
For example, U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal ruled in September that “loss of unit cohesion” was the same argument used to keep Black people, women, and gay people from joining the military.
“The military has repeatedly proven its capacity to adapt and grow stronger specifically by the inclusion of these individuals,” wrote Bernal as he dismissed claims that including trans people would generate any different outcome.
It’s worth noting that the emergency briefs filed this week object to numerous motions for discovery filed in the cases. It seems the Trump administration wants to claim that all documentation related to how the ban was developed would fall under executive privilege.
What they really mean is that if those documents came to light, the American public might discover that Vice President Pence (a known homophobe) and his virulently anti-LGBTQ friends were instrumental in pushing the new ban through.
Should the Supreme Court allow the policy to be implemented before the case reaches SCOTUS, thousands of transgender soldiers could be discharged for being who they are.
This short video from the New York Times introduces just a few of the trans soldiers who are at risk of being discharged.
The opinions expressed here represent the author and not those of Instinct or its contributors.
(h/t ThinkProgress, Daily Beast)
(image via Flickr/photographer Ted Eytan)