Second US judge blocks Trump's military transgender ban
Washington: A second federal judge has blocked the US administrations proposed ban on transgender troops, saying President Donald Trump's announcement of the ban earlier this year was "capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified".
In a preliminary injunction, Judge Marvin J. Garbis of Maryland on Tuesday halted a policy that would have discharged all current transgender troops and barred prospective ones from enlisting, saying it likely violated equal protection provisions of the Constitution, the New York Times reported.
Judge Garbis's order went further than a similar ruling in October by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of Columbia, which also said the ban likely violated the Constitution.
"There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effective on the military at all," the ruling said.
But while Judge Kollar-Kotelly did not specifically block a Trump administration policy prohibiting gender-reassignment surgery for service members at the government's expense, Judge Garbis's order does.
The ruling leaves in place an Obama-era policy, announced in 2016, that allows transgender troops to serve openly and receive the required medical care for their gender transition through the military.
Shortly after the ruling the Trump administration appealed last month's decision, signalling it would continue to press for the removal of transgender troops.
In July, Trump said on Twitter that the military could not afford the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" of transgender troops and that the government "will not accept or allow them to serve in any capacity in the US military".
A presidential memorandum released in August said all transgender service troops would be discharged. A number of service members immediately filed suit, arguing the new policies were discriminatory.
There are an estimated 2,000 to 11,000 active duty transgender service members, according to a 2016 RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit on behalf of six service members, said the ruling was a victory over what it called in a statement "uninformed speculation, myths and stereotypes".
"Today is a victory for transgender service members across the country," said Joshua Block, who represented the service members.
"We're pleased that the courts have stepped in to ensure that trans service members are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve," he said.