From January 1, the United States military has officially begun accepting new openly transgender applicants to serve, despite the presidents “ban.”
The historic date in allowing new transgender recruits was originally set for July 1, 2017, following former President Obama’s 2016 decision to allow transgender personnel in the military.
However, the date was pushed to the first day of 2018 in order “to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality.”
The new date then appeared to be cancelled entirely following President Trump shocked the world in July when he announced on Twitter that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military.”
This order, however, was quickly challenged in court across the United States in at least four cases, leading to multiple injunctions against the president’s attempt to impose the ban.
As the result of the multiple judgments against Trump’s “ban,” the enlistments went ahead as scheduled on Monday, with the United States Justice Department deciding to withdraw any federal appeals against the judgments made against the ban.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), which took the issue to court, described the Pentagon’s confirmation that transgender individuals can now join the military as a “victory.”
“This is a major victory in the litigation and great news for transgender troops, transgender military academy and ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) students, and transgender people who have been waiting to enlist,” explained Shannon Minter, who is the NCLR Legal Director.
“There is no reason to exclude transgender people from military service, especially when they have already proved their ability to serve. Transgender people are part of this country, and their willingness to take on the hardships and sacrifices of military service should be honoured, not banned.”
Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director, added, “This is a historic and proud moment for our country. Transgender people have made amazing contributions to our Armed Forces, serving honourably throughout the services including overseas and in combat. We are stronger when the military reflects all of who we are as a nation.”
Despite the recent victory, LGBTQ groups throughout the United States admit that the issue is likely far from over and that the Trump Administration will probably still fight to enforce the discriminatory restrictions on transgender recruits in the future.