The Supreme Court Just Took a Giant Step Towards Upholding Donald Trump’s Despicable Transgender Military Ban
In a devastating blow to transgender rights, the Supreme Court ruled this morning to at least temporarily uphold Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.
The ban–which Trump first announced on Twitter in July of 2017, reportedly with little to no input from his defense secretary–had been hit with a number of injunctions from lower courts where lawsuits had been filed against the president. Now, in a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court has lifted two of those injunctions. They did not release an explanation for the decision–and, importantly, they did not actually rule on the ban itself, only on other courts’ injunctions–but the vote was straight down liberal/conservative lines, with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissenting.
So what does this mean? The lifting of these injunctions is a scary, insulting, and dangerous step toward enforcing Trump’s trangender military ban, but it’s not the final step. For now, that ban is still blocked by other injunctions that SCOTUS wasn’t asked to review.
tl;dr the president’s trans military ban is still blocked nationwide. https://t.co/ERdfLe4vAn
— ACLU (@ACLU) January 22, 2019
However, the New York Times reports that the court’s ruling allows Trump’s ban to go into effect while those remaining cases are being worked through in the lower courts.
SCOTUS 5-4 grants Trump Administration request to permit Administration’s transgender military service ban to take effect, while appeals are heard in lower courts.
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) January 22, 2019
Trump’s ban overturned an Obama-era ruling allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military. In August of 2017, Trump’s secretary of defense Jim Mattis put out the actual policy enforcing Trump’s tweets, with some refinements, specifically opening the door for potential exceptions to the ban to be made for currently serving members of the military. It would also possibly make an exception for, as the Washington Post reports, “others who would serve in accordance with their birth gender.” In other words, people who would go back into the closet and ignore their true gender identity.
.@realDonaldTrump’s ban on trans Americans serving in our nation’s military was purpose-built to humiliate brave men & women seeking to serve their country. Deeply concerning that #SCOTUS is allowing his ban to proceed for now. #ProtectTransTroops https://t.co/PgtEJJVHvX
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 22, 2019
Originally, Trump had declared a ban on all transgender people serving in the armed forces. His primary justification was the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” caused by trans service members. That, as we know, is just a plain lie. That’s what was decided by the experts who advised Obama over his 2016 decision.
A RAND study at the time found that there are approximately 2,450 transgender people serving in the military, out of about 1.3 million active service members. Only a tiny subset of those (between 29 and 129 people per year) would require additional transition-related medical services while serving. They found that the cost of extending gender transition-related health care coverage to transgender personnel would increase active-duty health care costs by a mere 0.04- to 0.13-percent. That’s not exactly “tremendous.”
“Even upper-bound estimates indicate that less than 0.1 percent of the total force would seek transition-related care that could disrupt their ability to deploy,” the study reads.
Trump’s argument that transgender people are a “disruption” and a financial drain on the military is a lie. But it reinforces a narrative that appeals to his base: the idea that trans people are dangerous to them as individuals and, somehow, to our very way of life as Americans.
As I’ve said before: it’s not about the military itself, but about wiping out any sort of legal recognition by the fed. gov. that trans people a.) exist, b.) have the capacity to participate in society, and c.) have health care concerns that are medically necessary, not cosmetic.
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) January 22, 2019
Donald Trump isn’t trying to make the country safer. Just as a border wall wouldn’t actually stop an influx of drugs or crime, but serves only as a symbol for those who have conflated Central American immigrants to be synonymous with crime, a ban on transgender military personnel wouldn’t benefit the military in any discernible way. In fact, devoting so much time and energy to the former in both cases only makes us less safe. In one instance, Trump shut down the government, weakening the effectiveness of agencies designed to protect Americans. In the other, Trump wants to purge the military of up to thousands of persons willing and able to serve the country.
The government has been shut for a month
Trained military personnel is banned from serving
None of this is about security. We’re more vulnerable than ever. But at least we get to punish those trans and brown immigrants.
— Ben Philippe (@gohomeben) January 22, 2019
Transgender military members have the courage to serve our country and deserve to do so. We have to fight back to reverse this. https://t.co/ln495C3RUR
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 22, 2019
Trump’s hateful ban on transgender troops in our military is an affront to their service, and has nothing to do with unit cohesion or readiness.
Take it from our military leaders themselves. I’ve asked them.
“Just not an issue.”
“Precisely zero.” pic.twitter.com/ai6xG708Re
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 22, 2019
Donald trump hates the military
— Megan Amram (@meganamram) January 22, 2019
(image: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
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