The Supreme Court announced on Tuesday in a 5-4 decision that they would allow the transgender military ban to go into effect while the lower courts continued to hammer out the issue. To be clear, they did not rule on the merits of the case (whether the president can and should transgender people from serving in the military) they just said that the ban could continue for now.
In July 2017, President Trump announced a ban on transgender people being able to serve in the military. Then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis put in place a more detailed policy. When the ban was put on hold by lower courts, the Trump administration went right to the Supreme Court and asked for the ban to go into effect while the challenges moved forward, claiming it was an issue of national security. Today, four of the more liberal Judges (Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer) said they would not have allowed the ban to continue. However, they were overruled by the five other justices, and the ban will continue to work its way through the lower courts.
This Supreme Court ruling, while disappointing to many, is a solid ruling for two reasons: It’s almost always better for the lower courts to address cases and go through the appellate process working out the kinks, rather than immediately going directly to the Supreme Court. Going straight to the Supreme Court treats the highest court in the land as a nine-person bench of gods rather than a judicial branch trying to decide whether a previous decision was correct.
Second, and perhaps more interestingly, the transgender ban really is a national security issue, though some media outlets will no doubt paint it as a form of bigotry. Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokesperson, told CNN:
“As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity. [The Department of Defense’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. DoD’s proposed policy is based on professional military judgment and will ensure that the U.S. Armed Forces remain the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world.”
Like most things, the devil is in the details. A detailed look at the ban shows the ban itself is not exactly a ban on transgender people but a ban that places parameters around mental health so that those fighting in our armed forces can prioritize national security. The ban says it affects individuals who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria — a very specific, serious psychological condition that affects one’s mind and trickles down to behavior. Often individuals with gender dysphoria want to transition to the opposite sex.
Some transgender people can still serve in the military if they were diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” before the effective date of the policy. They can still serve and receive medical treatment. Or, service members who were diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” after joining the military can stay if they don’t transition and remain healthy. There are a few other exceptions.
CNN reports, “The policy also states that transgender persons serving who require gender reassignment surgery or hormonal treatment during their service would be disqualified due to their inability to be deployed for a period longer than 12 months.” During the Obama administration, 937 members were diagnosed with gender dysphoria and began or completed their transition in the military.
In this light, parameters around those who have gender dysphoria and the military make sense: The military is a fighting force, meant to secure our nation here and abroad. It is not a petri dish of social sciences, equipped or purposed with the task of helping individuals who have gender dysphoria or who want Uncle Sam to pay their transition bills.
For those who claim the government (and now even the Supreme Court) is engaging in a form of bigotry against transgender people, consider the purpose of the military (national security) and the details of the ban, which has reasonable parameters.
Nicole Russell (@russell_nm) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota.
Author: Nicole Russell
Source: Washingtonexaminer: Trump’s military transgender ban is more reasonable than you think