Pentagon enforces controversial new transgender policies

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The Pentagon set new restrictions on transgender service members on Wednesday, limiting the activity of transgender people who are eligible to serve in the military. 

The Defense Department posted new guidelines online stating that all individuals who have transitioned or who need to in the view of medical providers will be banned from serving beginning April 12.

According to the guidelines, this new policy also prohibits those with a history of gender dysphoria from joining the armed services unless they have been “stable” in their biological sex for three years. They must also agree to abide by the guidelines for that sex, and have not transitioned and do not need to in the view of medical providers.

“The new DOD policy eliminates special accommodations that were provided to persons with gender dysphoria but not to others,” the memo states. “Individuals who have undergone either hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery for gender dysphoria will no longer be able to join the military without a waiver.”

These guidelines come just one day after the Pentagon announced the signing of a directive to implement the president’s policy effectively barring most transgender people from serving in the military. 

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, is a critic of the new policy. He called the rule “discriminatory” and said it prevented willing Americans from serving in the military.

“Anyone who is qualified and willing should be allowed to serve their country openly,” Smith said in a statement. “Make no mistake, this is a discriminatory ban on transgender people, not a ban on a medical condition, and we will continue to fight against this bigoted policy.”

“It would be prudent for Acting Secretary [Patrick] Shanahan to delay implementing the Mattis policy until the courts have made their final determinations,” he added, referring to the ongoing court battles surrounding the policy.

Multiple lawsuits are pending against the ban, but the Supreme Court ruled in January that the Pentagon could enforce the ban until the court battles are settled.

“The department is pleased with the orders issued by the Supreme Court today,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Carla Gleason said. “We will continue to work with the Department of Justice regarding next steps in the pending lawsuits. As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity.”

Lawyers representing the claimants argued that the ongoing case in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals should have prevented the Pentagon from implementing the policy. They argue that the decision violates a court injunction.

“Defendants are disregarding both those interests and the authority of this Court. They must not be permitted to cast aside the ordinary procedures that safeguard those constitutional interests, nor may they be permitted to usurp the Court’s jurisdiction to determine when its injunction has expired,” the lawyers wrote.

Credit: The Hill