Sunday , May 06, 2018 - 12:00 AM
During Barack Obama’s presidency in 2016, the transgender military ban was lifted; however, this was revoked only one year later.
On July 26, 2017, President Donald Trump published a series of tweets which stated his position on transgender citizens serving in the U.S. military. He said, “After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory,” he continued, “and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Following these tweets, on Aug. 25, the “Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security,” which is also known as the “Presidential Memorandum on Military Service by Transgender Individuals,” was released. The memorandum would not allow transgender people to be recruited, or allow the Department of Defense to provide aid for their medical procedures.
“I think it’s stupid how we could have such a ban,” said senior Ivan Nakai from Syracuse High School. “These people are wanting to fight for our country and are risking their lives just to make sure that our country is OK.”
In response to Trump’s memorandum, several lawsuits were filed by a various transgender service members. First, in Doe v. Trump, five anonymous transgender service members, with the aid of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed a lawsuit in August asking the courts to allow transgender troops to stay in the military under the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment.
In the case, federal judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly blocked Trump’s ban (except the order to the Department of Defense on funding medical procedures), stating, “I am directing the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the U.S. Coast Guard, to return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016 until such time as a sufficient basis exists upon which to conclude that terminating that policy and practice would not have the negative effects discussed above.”
Two other cases, Karnoski v. Trump and Stone v. Trump, were similar to Doe v. Trump. Karnoski v. Trump was filed on Aug. 29 by three transgender service members, Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign under the Fifth Amendment, including due process and equal protection. On Sept. 14, six other transgender service members, as well as the American Military Partner Association, joined the amended lawsuit.
Last December, judge Marsha J. Pechman’s ruling in the Karnoski case granted the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction and prohibited the government “from taking any action relative to transgender individuals that is inconsistent with the status quo that existed prior to President Trump’s July 26, 2017 announcement.”
The preliminary ruling of of Pechman was then reviewed and affirmed on April 13.
On March 23, Trump signed off on a new memorandum, the “Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security Regarding Military Service by Transgender Individuals.” This revoked his past memorandum, and in section 2, stated, “The Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, with respect to the U.S. Coast Guard, may exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals.”
This was turned down by Karnoski v. Trump, thus continuing to protect transgender service members.
As these cases press on in our nation’s courts, other Northern Utah students have their own opinions about how the government is handling the question of transgender persons serving in the military.
Junior Cole-Makena Hamblin of Syracuse High said, “If you’re trying to serve, it does not matter what gender you are, so why would you prevent people from willingly giving up parts of their lives for serving their country?”
“It’s a political way to state your opinions, the government already ruled out no discrimination against people, and that is what they are doing to the LGBTQ+ community,” Hamblin continued. “You don’t have to agree with it, but you shouldn’t prevent people from doing something that they want to do.”
Senior Kelsey Hunzeker of Syracuse High added, “I think that if (transgender citizens) are willing to lay down their lives for the country and protect us, then it doesn’t matter whether they are transgender or anything else. People’s actions and character are more important than their gender. Those who don’t see that are living in the past.”
Cathy Taylor is a senior at Syracuse High School. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up for e-mail news updates.