Trump's Transgender Military Ban Hits A Wall

Trump's Transgender Military Ban Hits A Wall

The high handed policy decisions of the President continue to spur tumult in the country’s legal system. 

When Trump revealed his decision use his authority to bar openly transgender people from military service in July, reverting to the country's policy pre-2016 policy, many even in Trump’s own administration were shocked. Not just because the president decided to announce such an important decision on social media, but also due to the message it sent to transgender members of the military. At least 2,000 and possibly as many as 11,000 active-duty troops identify as transgender, according to a 2016 RAND Corporation study.  

Those in the administration with a military sense such as Trump’s Defense Secretary James Mattis, were to say the least, taken aback by the decision. What kind of message did this send the thousands of transgender troops serving in the numerous conflict zones America is involved in the world over? Mattis, for his part appointed a review panel on how to go about executing the new policy, in what many saw as attempt to stall the order’s implementation.  

In the latest news on so called “Transgender ban,” reports have now come out that Trump’s plans have run into court opposition. Reminiscent of the judicial battles that ensued following Trump’s travel restrictions, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled on Monday that Trump's directive cannot be enforced while the case is being reviewed in court. 

The underpinnings of the ruling was based on the assessment that allowing the order to be implemented as of now, violate the plaintiffs Fifth Amendment rights, namely their right to due process. In the memo containing the ruling, the judge cited factors for opposition to the ban including the “sheer breadth of the exclusion ordered” and the “unusual circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement of them” (read: announcing major national policy on Twitter).  

The groups that had filed the case with the D.C. court, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), celebrated the ruling as a victory

According to the NCLR and GLAD - indeed most if not all of the orders opponents - Trump’s new policy was a targeted discrimination against LGBT persons and there are not facts to indicate that it will have positive impact on the function of the military.

In truth, Trump’s order as well as this latest ruling, will not produce too many real-world consequences in the near future. Mattis’ inquiry into the order’s implementation will be going on for the next six months. During that time, changes can, and likely will, be made to the order. 

What can be taken from all of this for the time being is another demonstration of how Trump’s bold policy moves can undermine his authority as commander in chief. Even if Trump actually believes there is wisdom behind the ban - as a combat military veteran, this writer can testify that there may very well be - the approach, parameters, and form in which policy is rolled out, all play a vital role in whether or not they are sustainable. 

As eluded to above, there is very strong indication that Trump did not consult with relevant members of his cabinet before making his decision on the ban back in July. If he had, it probably would have resulted in a slightly more palatable version of the current order, and perhaps even a more tactful announcement. 

If the president is interested in generating policy that will not be met by endless legal obstacles, he would be well advised to consider this factors when issuing directives that will drastically effect our national institutions.