Washington, Jan 23: The Supreme Court allowed US President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban to go into effect on Tuesday, dealing a blow to LGBT activists who call the ban cruel and irrational.
The Justices did not rule on the merits of the case, but will allow the ban to go forward while the lower courts work through it.
The four liberal justices on the Court objected to allowing the administration’s policy banning most transgender people from serving in the military to go into effect, CNN reported.
The policy, first announced by the President in July 2017 via Twitter, and later officially released by then-Secretary of Defence James Mattis in 2018, blocks individuals who have been diagnosed with a condition known as gender dysphoria from serving with limited exceptions.
It also specifies that individuals without the condition can serve, but only if they do so according to the sex they were assigned at birth.
In a statement released after the SCOTUS decision to allow the ban to go forward, the Pentagon sought to clarify that its policy is not a ban on all transgender persons from the military.
“As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity. (The Department of Defence’s) proposed policy is NOT a ban on service by transgender persons. It is critical that DoD be permitted to implement personnel policies that it determines are necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world,” Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokesperson, told CNN.
“DoD’s proposed policy is based on professional military judgment and will ensure that the US Armed Forces remain the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world,” it added.
In July 2017, Trump surprised military leaders by tweeting, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military,” Trump said.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
His tweets came less than a month into the six-month delay set by Mattis to review the US military’s policy on transgender service members.
The Pentagon was forced to allow transgender applicants to join the military on January 1, 2018, after a federal judge ruled that the military had to allow transgender recruits to join.