Judge halts trans-military ban

President Donald Trump’s Twitter-originated ban on transgender military members suffered a major setback this week.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled on Monday that the August directive barring transgender individuals from serving in the military encourages “inherent inequality.” She partially granted an injunction requested by theNational Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, who are leading a suit against the directive. Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling halts the ban as the suit moves forward. 

In issuing her ruling, the judge noted that the transgender plaintiffs NCLR and GLAD represent are “likely to succeed” in proving their claim that the ban violates trans individuals’ constitutional right to due process.

“This is a complete victory for our plaintiffs and all transgender servicemembers, who are now once again able to serve on equal terms and without the threat of being discharged,” NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter said in a statement. “We are grateful to the court for recognizing the gravity of these issues and putting a stop to this dangerous policy, which has wreaked havoc in the lives of transgender servicemembers and their families.” 

“This court saw straight through the smokescreen the government tried to create to hide the bias and prejudice behind Trump’s change in military policy,” added GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi. “This clear, powerful ruling confirms that there is no legitimate reason to exclude transgender people from military service.”

The ruling also called into question the validity of using social media to communicate federal policy; Trump announced his intent to ban trans servicemembers through Twitter in July before issuing a formal directive.

In an unusual move, the judge printed a screenshot of Trump’s tweets in her opinion. 

The decision was announced “without any of the formality or deliberative processes that generally accompany the development and announcement of major policy changes that will gravely affect the lives of many Americans,” the judge wrote.

While Trump wrote on social media that the move came after consultation with military leaders, Kollar-Kotelly determined that “all of the reasons proffered by the president for excluding transgender individuals from the military in this case were not merely unsupported, but were actually contradicted by the studies, conclusions and judgment of the military itself.”