DOD’s New Plan to Bar Transgender Troops Faces Legal Fights

President Trump walks with Defense Secretary James Mattis following a meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2018. DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber Smith.

The Trump administration’s plan to bar most transgender individuals from military service, is already facing a series of legal challenges with the US Department of Justice saying it is ready to defend the Pentagon’s authority.

The White House on Friday said it allowed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to implement a new policy, finding “the accession or retention of individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery — presents a considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”

The Pentagon, late Friday, released the 48-page memo Mattis sent Trump, outlining the policy. Specifically, servicemembers who require or may have had gender reassignment surgery should be disqualified from service, it reads. Those with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria should also be banned, with limited exceptions. Transgender servicemembers currently serving, and who have not undergone reassignment surgery, can stay in service, as long as they have been “medically stable” for at least 36 months.

After the announcement, groups such as Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN have filed for permanent injunctions against the policy, and California’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against it as well, according to The Associated Press.

Mattis, asked Monday about the new policy, said “We are out to build the most lethal service. Right now, because these are matters under litigation, I’m not going to discuss them further.”

The Justice Department said Friday it will defend the Pentagon’s ability to implement policies that are “determined necessary to best defend our nation,” the AP reported.