Back in July, President Donald Trump's tweeted plans to bar transgender people from serving in the military left LGBTQ service members devastated. Just a few years earlier, in 2010, they had finally improved their rights in the U.S. military with the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that long left soldiers hiding their sexual orientation or gender identity in fear.
What followed was a lawsuit from a coalition that included a transgender staff sergeant at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Seattle-based Gender Justice League; the state of Washington joined the challenge later.
And on Monday, human rights advocates were vindicated when a federal judge filed a preliminary injunction against Trump's ban, ruling that the prohibiting transgender people from serving "is likely unconstitutional" and harms U.S. interests in protecting residents from discrimination. U.S. Department of Defense officials then announced that starting in January, transgender people will be allowed to enlist.
“Today’s ruling is a major victory for the thousands of transgender service members who serve their country with honor and distinction,” Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson said. “Barring transgender service members from serving based on anything other than their ability and conduct is wrong.”
U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly filed the injunction pending further legal review and said the court doesn't believe the defendants would be "irreparably injured" by allowing transgender people in the military. Trump's decision appeals to his most important base of evangelical voters, though he said it would be too costly to pay for transgender service members' get medical care and treatments.
"It's not like I'm the kind of person to let fear get in the way of doing my job," staff sergeant Cathrine Schmid, one of the plaintiffs who sued Trump, told Seattle Met. "Most people said, 'You're a good NCO, and that should be what you're judged on.'"
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Department of Justice is still considering its options "to ensure the president's directive is implemented."