SCOTUS rules in favor of anti-transgender military ban

01/24/2019

By Duke Staff

Earlier this week, President Trump scored another judicial victory in his attempt to once again undo any important social progress made by previous administrations in the lead up to his presidency.

In a 5-4 ruling, with the court’s conservative wing all voting in the majority, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) granted the Trump administration temporary permission to move forward with its proposed policy to bar transgender individuals from joining the U.S. military.

Originally proposed via tweet (since that’s how we create life-altering government policies in America these days) in 2017, and then revised by Pentagon officials under the direction of Jim Mattis, the ban seeks to reverse the 2016 Obama era policy that initially opened the military for people who have undergone gender transition.

Following this week’s SCOTUS ruling and the Pentagon’s policy review that occurred last year, the policy will prohibit anyone transgender from enlisting in the military, with protections in place for those already openly serving. There is also a provision that would allow any transgender individuals to enlist if they are willing to serve “in their biological sex.”

Though this ruling only temporarily lifts the injunction on the policy until a ruling is issued from the current litigation in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, it does not create a sense of optimism for the rulings that will follow, even though the Trump administration’s argument has no logical reasoning behind it.

“There is no harm — much less immediate harm — to the military from allowing the service of transgender individuals who satisfy the demanding standards to which all service members are subject … The government has presented no evidence that their doing so harms military readiness, effectiveness, or lethality,” lawyers said in the SCOTUS opposition brief, presenting the argument that activists and a large portion of the American people have been stating for the past year and a half.

Without any actual proof to justify this irrational policy, the Trump administration’s true intentions are on full display — bigotry for bigotry’s sake. The ban is wildly unfair and completely unnecessary, created only to satisfy the whims of the president’s ever- shrinking base. There is no science behind it. Transgender individuals place no unbearable financial burden on the military; Forbes reports that a miniscule .017 percent of the military’s grossly over-the-top budget is spent on the needs of transgender service members. In fact, the Washington Post reports that five times as much is spent on Viagra than medical care for transgender troops. Let that sink it.

What the president does not seem to take into consideration or concern himself with, however, is that this policy and others — the travel ban and the reversal of the DACA program, for example — directly hinder the social progress America had started to make as a country, taking our society back in time in terms of civil rights. The administration has already made the move to roll back federal protections for transgender Americans, suggesting that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination based on sex, religion, race and ethnicity, does not apply to the transgender community.

The government’s systemic attacks on transgender Americans need to be called what they are: acts of hatred, fueled by ignorance. No government that excludes even the smallest proportion of its citizenry from the same privileges and rights as the majority ought to call itself “for the people.” We can’t allow this to become the norm, the dangerous guessing game of whose rights will be taken away next. Lawmakers and presidents can be voted out of office, but judicial rulings are much more permanent and damaging. For our future’s sake, this can’t become the new normal.

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