The Pentagon Just Gave Trump the Final Word on Transgender Troops

Pentagon officials have revealed that the Department of Defense will allow transgender people to enlist in the military starting on January 1, despite opposition from President Donald Trump.

The decision was upheld by a federal judge on Monday, after the Trump administration had sought a delay. Trump over the summer unexpectedly announced that he was banning transgender people from serving in the military and that he had reached the decision after discussion with “his” generals — though the joint chiefs of staff were equally stunned by the decision and spoke against it.

“The court will not stay its preliminary injunction pending defendants’ appeal,” Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said. “In sum, having carefully considered all of the evidence before it, the court is not persuaded that defendants will be irreparably injured by allowing the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on January 1, 2018.”

Kollar-Kotelly had initially blocked the ban in October as a lawsuit against it was working through the court system. The Trump administration appealed the injunction and had last week filed a motion asking for a stay on the decision to begin accepting transgender troops on January 1, 2018, claiming the military would be “seriously and irreparably harmed if forced” to comply.

Kollar-Kotelly, though, found in favor of the plaintiffs, who noted that the Pentagon has had more than a year and a half to prepare to accept transgender troops, dating back to when the Obama administration first declared it would lift the ban. This is the second time federal courts have ruled against the ban.

A Rand study conducted in June 2016 found that transgender troops do not have a negative effect on effectiveness and would only reflect a minute difference on health care costs — two of the reasons Trump used to justify the ban.