The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has sided with President Trump and overturned a lower court’s ruling that blocked his ban on “transgender” people serving in the military.

The appeals court three-judge panel wrote, “In light of the substantial constitutional arguments and the apparent showing that the policy accommodates at least some of plaintiffs’ interests, we think that the public interest weighs in favor of dissolving the injunction.”

The court also agreed with the Trump administration that former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ plan is not a blanket ban on “transgender” people. It ruled that District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly made a “clear error” in deciding that the injunction should stay in place. The court stated that Mattis’ plan was not “foreordained” by Trump because it took into account a panel of military and medical experts, evidence from the implementation of the open service policy, and “a reassessment of the priorities of the group that produced” the open service policy.

President Donald Trump issued a memorandum in March 2018 disqualifying “transgender” individuals from serving in the military, stating that the defense secretary and the homeland security secretary should “exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals.” The memorandum said individuals with a history of gender dysphoria, defined as “those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery,” are disqualified from military service “except under certain limited circumstances.” Those who are currently in the United States military may remain in the ranks, but the Pentagon could require them to serve according to their gender at birth.

Mattis released an implementation plan for Trump’s policy that would allow transgender people to serve if they do so in their biological sex. In a memo to the president, Mattis cited “substantial risks” about military personnel who seek to change or who question their gender identity. He found that individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria presented a risk to military effectiveness and “could undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion, and impose an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military effectiveness and lethality.” This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards—including those regarding the use of medical drugs—equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen.

Mattis suggested three exceptions: (1) If a person diagnosed with gender dysphoria can demonstrate a period of at least 36 months where they no longer suffer from the psychological condition; (2) Those diagnosed with gender dysphoria who do not seek to “transition” (receive hormone drugs and undergo plastic and other surgery), and are deployable, may also serve; and (3) Those who have already been serving prior to the effective date of the new policy will not be discharged.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The decision to overturn the ban on “transgender” people in the military is a victory for our servicemembers who cannot serve and protect America when they are forced to function with confusion, dysfunction, and distraction. The report from the Defense Department concludes that there are substantial risks to military effectiveness and readiness regarding people who have gender dysphoria. The military is not a social club but rather a fine-tuned fighting machine of men and women who defend our freedom. It is not a right but a privilege to serve.”

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. 

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