Today is a banner day for any American who is committed both to the best interests of the military and the rule of law. After nearly two years of judicial obstruction, President Trump’s commonsense policy on transgender service in the military has finally taken effect (although legal challenges to it are still being litigated).
In July of 2016, as President Barack Obama’s second term was coming to a close, he left another gift to his far-left constituents by lifting long-standing restrictions on military service by transgender persons — those who identify psychologically with something other than their biological sex. Although long justified on grounds of both mental and physical health, President Obama and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter decided that political correctness was a more important priority than military readiness.
A year later, though, Donald Trump was President, and he fulfilled a campaign promise to stop using the military for social experiments, announcing on Twitter that he would reverse the Obama/Carter policy. After careful study by a panel of experts, in March 2018 Defense Secretary James Mattis announced the detailed new policy — and the substantial justifications for it — in a 44-page Report and Recommendations.
Lawsuits were filed against the policy in four different U.S. District Courts, though, and all four judges issued preliminary injunctions to prevent the policy from taking effect. It was not until after the Supreme Court intervened that the last of the injunctions was lifted, allowing the Trump/Mattis policy to take effect.
While none of the cases have reached a final decision yet, the Supreme Court’s decision — that the policy does not cause the kind of “irreparable harm” that would justify a preliminary injunction — is encouraging. It may rest in part on the fact that Service members who have “come out” as transgender from the time the Obama/Carter took effect until yesterday are “grandfathered in” and will still be allowed to serve.
In the end, the courts must uphold the commander-in-chief’s power to make personnel policy for the armed forces. To understand the details of the Trump/Mattis policy and the compelling justifications for it, see FRC’s publications “Summary of Trump Administration Policy on Transgender Military Service” and “Department of Defense on Why Those with ‘Gender Dysphoria’ Are Disqualified from Military Service.”
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.