Military Policy Goes into Effect

Jan 22, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court today in a 5-4 vote allowed the military policy regarding so-called “transgender” people to go into effect while the case continues in the lower courts.

President Trump issued a memorandum last year disqualifying “transgender” individuals from serving in the military, thus ending a policy begun during the Obama administration. He directed then-Secretary of Defense, James Mattis to study the matter and issue a report.

Mattis issued a memo to President Trump citing “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 the military.

Federal district court judges in California, Washington, D.C. and Washington state issued orders blocking the policy nationwide. They said it likely amounted to unconstitutional discrimination and rejected the administration's claims that military readiness was an issue. The Justice Department went to the U.S. Supreme Court in November, urging the justices to take up the issue even before the cases had gone through the federal appeals courts — a request the Supreme Court grants very rarely. Today, the Court reversed the lower courts and lifted the injunctions, thus allowing the policy to go into effect.

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