A federal judge in Washington ruled against the Trump administration on Monday, paving the way for transgender Americans to sign up for the military next year.
Federal District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly shot down the White House’s argument that allowing transgender service would harm the armed forces.
Within minutes of her ruling, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. David Eastburn confirmed to reporters that beginning Jan. 1, 2018, transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist in the military.
That policy was established under the Obama administration, which had originally planned to open the military for transgender service by July 1.
Several months after President Trump assumed office, however, he moved to delay and overturn that order. Trump first issued a proclamation via Twitter in July, before sending a formal directive to his Defense Secretary James Mattis to extend the transgender ban.
Several LGBTQ groups, on behalf of trans service members and recruits promptly sued the administration, in proceedings known as Doe v. Trump.
In October, Judge Kollar-Kotelly issued an injunction blocking the Pentagon from implementing Trump’s exclusionary policy while the lawsuit was under consideration. The injunction was upheld again in November.
In her final ruling issued Monday, Kollar-Kotelly wrote: “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” in January.
Belying the administration’s claims were court filings from Department of Defense officials during the Obama administration, like Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. Mabus testified that most of the preparations to allow for transgender service had been completed prior to Trump taking office.
Once the ban is formally lifted, there will still be some restrictions in place on potential transgender recruits.
According to the Associated Press, they will have to undergo a “lengthy and strict set of physical, medical and mental conditions that make it possible, though difficult, for them to join the armed services.”
That includes individuals who previously suffered from gender dysphoria being required to submit information from a medical provider certifying that the recruit has been “clinically stable in the preferred sex for 18 months and are free of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reacted to the court decision on Monday saying that the Pentagon will comply with the judge’s order. At the same time, Sanders added, “the Department of Justice is currently reviewing legal options.”