Transgender Americans Are Now Able to Enlist in the United States Military, as Court Fight Continues

By Shane Stahl • January 1, 2018 • 9:53 am

Beginning today, January 1, openly transgender troops are able to continue serving, enlist, and be recruited into the United States military, following a lengthy battle across several courts and a Presidential administration determined to prevent it from happening.

In 2016, the Obama administration issued an order that would allow transgender people to serve openly in the military. However, in a series of tweets posted July 2017, newly-elected President Trump stated he would be seeking a ban on this order. The President followed up in August by signing a Presidential memo that followed through on his tweets.  

On August 9 2017, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) filed a motion for preliminary injunction in the case of Jane Doe v. Donald J. Trump to put a stop to Trump’s order, which would ban the thousands of transgender troops currently serving in the military. A judge granted the motion, reverting the situation back to status quo before Trump’s actions. The plaintiff in the case, Nicholas Talbott, has stated that, “this whole process with the courts has been a roller coaster. This is a highly emotional time for me. It’s definitely sitting, and hoping and waiting.”


Nicholas Talbott, plaintiff in the NCLR/GLAD case filed in August.

In October, a federal court blocked the Trump ruling, saying the ban could not take effect while the case was working its way through the courts. Following this second ruling, the administration filed an immediate request for a stay on the previous injunction. On December 11, a second federal judge denied the stay, stating in part, “the court is not persuaded that defendants will be irreparably injured by allowing the accession of transgender individuals into the military.” In total, four courts have issued preliminary injunctions preventing the ban from going into place, and two federal appeals courts have ruled that the January starting date must be abided.

In a statement following the December ruling, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Dave Eastburn confirmed that the processing of transgender recruits would begin on January 1.

Freedom For All Americans congratulates and thanks those transgender service members who have served our country, and those seeking to serve in the near future. Over the past year, dozens of transgender active military and veterans have shared their stories with us, and we are grateful to have provided a platform for them to raise their voices to say that discrimination is unacceptable.

To follow the latest on the cases concerning the potential military ban, click here to view our Litigation Tracker.

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