Judge Says Trump Administration Can’t Stop Funding Surgeries for Transgender Service Members

By Miriam Zoila Pu00e9rez Nov 22, 2017

A second federal judge issued a decision on Tuesday (November 21) supporting the existing injunction on the transgender military ban proposed by the Trump administration. The new ruling also ensures that transgender service members can access transition-related surgical care.

The ban—which began as a series of tweets from President Donald Trump in July—was formalized via a White House memo and a Department of Defense statement that reversed an Obama-era policy allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military and receive access to transition-related medical care. The proposal was set to take effect in March 2018.

Another injunction was issued on October 30, stopping the government from moving forward with the policy until a lawsuit filed by several anonymous transgender service members is resolved. This latest decision supports that decision and goes a step further with regard to the impact on transition-related surgical care, according to The Washington Post:

Even though U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington had already put the broad outlines of the proposal on hold in late October, her decision did not explicitly rule on whether the administration could stop paying for sex-reassignment surgeries.

Garbis found that the proposed ban would harm plaintiffs in the Maryland case who are trying to schedule transition-related surgical care and will not be able to receive surgery before the policy’s March start date.

The plaintiffs in this case included six current service members who are transgender. The suit details how the policy impacts their ability to schedule medical services, and the ways in which the ban would impede those plans. The judge’s order says that the plaintiffs:

…Demonstrated that they are already suffering harmful consequences such as the cancellation and postponements of surgeries, the stigma of being set apart as inherently unfit, facing the prospect of discharge and inability to commission as an officer, the inability to move forward with long-term medical plans and the threat to their prospects of obtaining long-term assignments.

“Today is a victory for transgender service members across the country,” Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Projects, said in a statement. “We’re pleased that the courts have stepped in to ensure that trans service members are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”