Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Transgender Military Ban Due to Mental Health & Sex Change Costs
The US Supreme Court has ruled that President Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military can go ahead, ending almost two years of legal wrangling.
The justices voted 5-4 in favor of the ban, with four of the court’s more liberal justices – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – dissenting.
Trump’s legal struggle to bar transgender people from military service began in 2017, when he announced via Twitter that the country would no longer “accept or allow” transgender people to serve, citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
The ban was placed into effect in March, with the blessing of then-defense secretary James Mattis, who wrote in a memo to the president that there are “substantial risks associated with allowing the accession and retention of individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria.” Allowing transgender troops to serve, Mattis argued, would affect the military’s combat readiness and “lethality,” and should be banned in all but the most exceptional circumstances.
While Trump initially proposed a blanket ban, Mattis’ recommendations only barred transgender individuals with a history of gender dysphoria – considered by the World Health Organization to be a mental illness until June 2018 – and plans to transition.
Nevertheless, several federal courts placed injunctions on Trump’s ban, which were lifted by Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision. However, the Supreme Court will not conduct a full review of the policy until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which originally blocked the ban, has issued a ruling on it.
Transgender Americans had been barred from military service since the early 1960s, until the Obama administration lifted the ban in 2016. A 2016 RAND study estimated that there were between 1,300 and 6,600 transgender troops in active duty.