President Donald Trump's ban on transgender individuals serving in the military may not go into effect after all. On Tuesday, a federal judge announced that Trump's transgender troop ban can't be implemented, saying that a court injunction from 2017 prohibits the administration from moving forward with the ban. The judge's notice stands in contrast to the Pentagon's recent communication on the policy, with the agency announcing in a March memo that it would be enforcing the ban beginning in April.
U.S. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a notice on Tuesday asserting that one transgender military ban-related injunction — i.e. a court order prohibiting the enforcement of the ban as its related court case makes its way through the system — still remains in place, even though three others were lifted, Reuters reported.
As the outlet noted, two of these injunctions were lifted following a Supreme Court ruling in January, while another was lifted on March 7. The fourth hasn't been rescinded, which means that the Pentagon shouldn't be rolling out the policy, according to the judge. As Bloomberg explains:
The nationwide preliminary injunction issued by this court remains in place... The fact that the three other nationwide preliminary injunctions which had been in place are now stayed has no impact on the continued effectiveness of this court’s preliminary injunction.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly said that her notice would remain in place until at least March 29, the deadline by which the plaintiffs in the case must submit a request for a rehearing of the case before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, BuzzFeed reported. The outlet added that a rehearing request could mean that the injunction is extended for a longer period of time.
Reuters noted that a Pentagon spokesperson said its officials were consulting with the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the judge's notice. The DOJ declined to comment on the matter to Reuters.
Anti-discrimination advocates praised the judge's announcement, saying that it was a step in the right direction. As Jennifer Levi, a lawyer for the organization GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, told BuzzFeed:
We are grateful for the district court’s clarity in stating, unequivocally, that the injunction against the transgender military ban remains in place... Plaintiffs will continue to challenge the government’s efforts to reinstate an unfair and discriminatory policy against transgender people. And, for now, the military cannot take any adverse action against transgender troops or recruits who meet all current standards of service.
Trump initially announced a transgender troop ban on Twitter in July 2017. He later supported a revised 2018 ban created by then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis that established exceptions to allow some transgender individuals to serve in the military, the BBC reported.
These initiatives stand in stark contrast to the actions of the Obama administration, which reversed a prior policy in order to allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the military for the first time in 2016 and require the government to pay for their medical transition care, The New York Times reported.
As the end of March approaches, it remains to be seen whether the injunction on the transgender troop ban will be carried over to next month — or if the Pentagon will be allowed to proceed with its plan of implementing the ban in April.