The ban was originally announced by President Donald Trump via twitterin July, although it has been speculated to be on the wish list of many republicans since Obama originally ordered the Pentagon to allow transgender individuals to enlist in 2016. The ban was later made official – one month later – with a Presidential Memorandum. The Trump administration reasoned that transgender people caused “tremendous medical costs and disruption” in the armed forces, believing that money would be saved and mental stability ensured by removing transgender individuals from the military.
The Memorandum was immediately met with discrimination lawsuits in federal courts and the ban was placed on hold. Many opponents of the ban cited the relative low cost of transgender-specific healthcare in the military as well as a lack of the claimed disruption. Others argued the ban showed pure discrimination.
A study conducted by the RAND corporation took some of these issues head on. The study proved that thetransgender-specific healthcare took eight million dollars of the military’s near one trillion dollar budget at it’s highest and as low as two and a half million dollars in other estimates. The study also refutes Trump’s idea of disruption, stating that these members impose little to no impact or disruption of military members. Not only did RAND draw from their own data, but also from data from other studies in the past that showed incorporating woman and other openly gay and lesbian individuals “have similarly had no significant effect on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness”.
On October 30th, Kollar-Kotelly overturned Trump’s ban in federal court. A week later, she added a ruling that the Pentagon must allow transgender people to enlist again starting on January 1st. The Trump administration quickly appealed this decision. The appeal was denied this afternoon by Kollar-Kotelly, ensuring that the ruling would stand.
Hours after the Kollar-Kotelly ruling,another U.S. District Court Judge denied the Trump Administration’s appeal in another case out of Washington. Judge Marsha Pechman cited that she was “not convinced by the vague claims” in her ruling to keep the January 1st deadline for the Pentagon to enlist transgender individuals into the military.
Combined, these rulings are a big blow to any transgender military ban.