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Supreme Court advances military ban

Transgender soldiers soon to be turned away

An estimated 1 in 5 trans adults are veterans.
Photo illustration: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry

As of Jan. 22, the Supreme Court has moved forward with President Trump’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military—voting 5–4 to lift injunctions standing in the way of the ban. This decision has left military personnel and their families with uncertainty, fear, and distress as the plans to implement this policy formulate.

Openly transgender people had been barred from enlisting in the U.S. military for years, but in 2015 the Pentagon introduced a policy that would allow transgender soldiers to serve. However, since a series of tweets in 2017, Trump has been pushing to reinstate the ban, citing “tremendous medical costs” and “disruption” as justification. The policy is now going into effect at a national level with some appeals here and there at the local court level. 

With almost 400,000 veterans in Colorado and nearly 50,000 active duty soldiers—one of the highest military populations in the country—the consequences of this decision will be felt statewide. 

The response from the transgender community has been one of shock. The Trump Administration’s policy will affect 6,300 transgender people currently enlisted, but it also presents frightening implications to transgender veterans. The American Civil Liberties Union—or ACLU—estimates that one in five transgender adults are veterans, “making transgender people approximately twice as likely as others to serve in the military.”

The staff attorney of the ACLU, Joshua Block, expressed this astonishment as well, telling The Daily Beast, “It is partially egregious to—after all—yank the rug out from under them right at the end of the process.” Soon-to-retire Staff Sergeant Patricia King added, “I never expected that it would have been undone,” referring to the progress previously made in allowing transitioning people to serve.

CU Denver’s own Auraria campus LGBTQ Student Resource Center released a campus-wide email statement on the day that the news broke. In the email, Assistant Director Kyla Hines calls the decision a “blatantly hateful attack on the transgender community, and puts their rights, safety, and livelihood at risk.” 

“This letter is also a call to action for all,” Hines claimed, extending the issue beyond the transgender community. “When the basic rights and liberties of any group are threatened, all of our rights are also under threat.”

The statement also made it clear that the center is available for student support and can offer reinforcement, “whether you are experiencing anger, fear, disgust, sorrow, confusion, or pain.”

There remains one injunction on the ban hailing from the D.C. Circuit Court earlier in January. This injunction will remain in place until the end of February, a period of time in which either LGBT groups will attempt to get a rehearing or the Trump administration will continue to the next stage of the ban. 

For the time being, the fate of enlisted transgender people serving in the military appears uncertain, but with an administration intent on reinforcing the ban and an unopposed SCOTUS, it is likely that they will continue to dismiss transgender military rights. 

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