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Judge: Pentagon has no legal grounds to impose transgender ban

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
Transgender activists demonstrate in front of the White House on October 22, 2018. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Transgender activists demonstrate in front of the White House on October 22, 2018. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 20 (UPI) -- With less than a month to go before the Pentagon bans certain transgender treatments in the military, a federal judge has reaffirmed an injunction to block the new policy.

In her three-page ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said the Trump administration was wrong in thinking there are no more legal obstacles to the policy -- and that the injunction she issued in 2017 still stands.

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"The nationwide preliminary injunction issued by this court remains in place," Kollar-Kotelly said. "Defendants remain bound by this court's preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo"

The Defense Department announced the policy change last year. It bars transgender service members from receiving transitional treatments while on active duty. All transgender troops already enlisted before April 12 can continue to receive such procedures, like hormone therapy and surgery. It also bars enlistment in certain circumstances for persons with "gender dysphoria," a distress condition a person experiences over their birth gender.

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Critics say the policy is an attempt to effectively ban transgender persons from joining the military.

The Defense Department said it's consulting with the Justice Department of Justice on its next move, a Pentagon spokeswoman told The Hill.

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The old policy was implemented by the Obama administration in 2016. It says the military will provide transitional care based on medical guidance. It also allowed transgender troops to serve openly.

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Three other injunctions blocking the policy have been lifted, but plaintiffs in the Washington, D.C., case overseen by Kollar-Kotelly argue theirs holds until the court's full bench can hear the case. The deadline for that is March 29.

"The fact that the three other nationwide preliminary injunctions which had been in place are now stayed has no impact on the continued effectiveness of this court's preliminary injunction," Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

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