Openly transgender soldiers okay to serve in US armed forces

There are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender troops currently in U.S. military uniform, according to a RAND Corp. study. However, a legal challenge was filed by the Department of Justice in July, the purpose of which was to block transgender people from openly enlisting in the armed services in the future.

In response to the initial policy change, LGBTQ legal advocates filed suit. Four federal judges and two federal appeals courts upheld lower court rulings that such a block is unenforceable. A Pentagon announcement received by Historic City News on Friday, reported that the Department of Justice has withdrawn its legal challenge to several federal court rulings and has decided not to appeal the current policy, thereby allowing transgender enlistees to continue their military service.

“Starting Monday morning, openly transgender persons will be allowed to apply and serve in the U.S. armed forces,” Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb told media representatives. “As mandated by court order, the Department of Defense is prepared to begin assessing the qualifications of transgender applicants for military service, starting January 1.”

Federal district courts in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Seattle and Los Angeles have rejected arguments by the Department of Justice, arguments they say support discrimination. Two rejected arguments held that to allow transgender officers would impose tremendous medical costs and disruption to military operations.

In a statement, attorney Peter Renn of the LGBT civil rights advocacy group Lambda Legal said advocates “are relieved that we don’t have to hit pause on the constitutional rights of transgender people who are willing and able to serve our country.”

“In any case, all applicants must meet all accession standards,” Babb added.