Judge refuses to delay order requiring military to start accepting transgender recruits

Military Law

transgender troops

The U.S. Justice Department says it is evaluating its next steps after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Monday refused to delay her order for the military to start accepting transgender recruits Jan. 1.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said the government’s request for more time was based on “vague claims” and she was not persuaded that a stay was needed. The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, the Hill and the Associated Press have stories.

Kollar-Kotelly had issued a preliminary injunction Oct. 30 that prevented the government from implementing its ban on transgender recruits and service members. The government sought an emergency stay last week.

Kollar-Kotelly noted the government’s delayed request for a stay. “If complying with the military’s previously established Jan. 1, 2018 deadline to begin accession was as unmanageable as defendants now suggest, one would have expected defendants to act with more alacrity,” she wrote (PDF).

Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam issued this statement to the Washington Post: “We disagree with the court’s ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps. Plaintiffs’ lawsuit challenging military service requirements is premature for many reasons, including that the Defense Department is actively reviewing such service requirements, as the president ordered, and because none of the plaintiffs have established that they will be impacted by current policies on military service.”

A Pentagon spokesman, Maj. David Eastburn, told the Associated Press that the Pentagon will accept transgender recruits on Jan. 1 as the legal challenges play out.

But the recruits will have to meet medical guidelines if they are receiving hormone therapy, have gender dysphoria, or have undergone gender reconstruction, Eastburn said. Those guidelines require 18 months’ of social, occupational and medical stability.

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