The Trump administration is not allowed to deny taxpayer-subsidized funding for military members' sex reassignment surgeries, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis of Maryland ruled Wednesday.
According to the ruling, the funding can only be denied if the Trump administration's official guidance goes into full effect next year.
In his 53-page order, Garbis said the transgender service members challenging the ban have “demonstrated that they are already suffering harmful consequences such as the cancellation and postponements of surgeries, the stigma of being set apart as inherently unfit, facing the prospect of discharge and inability to commission as an officer, the inability to move forward with long-term medical plans, and the threat to their prospects of obtaining long-term assignments.”
In issuing the preliminary injunction, the judge found the challengers likely to prevail in asserting that the president’s order violates equal-protection guarantees in the Constitution as well as the rights of service members to medical care.
Back in July, President Trump announced a transgender military ban via a series of Tweets.
Six active-duty service members in Maryland challenged the proposal in court days after the president issued a former order reversing an Obama-era policy which allowed transgenders to serve and receive funding for sex-reassignment surgery.
Attorneys with the Justice Department asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit because the policy is currently on hold while the Defense Department reviews it. Government attorneys pointed out that at this time no formal decisions have been made about whether transgender individuals will be blocked from serving in the military. And while the order is being reviewed, the military is still providing funding for sex-change operations.
The debate over whether or not transgendered individuals should be allowed to join the military has been at the forefront of national discussion for years.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has made it clear that he has little tolerance for policies that detract from military readiness or effectiveness. Others have also noted that individuals in the transgender community have higher-than-average rates of depression and related issues that could impact readiness.
From a 2015 study by the National Center for Transgender Equality:
Fifty three percent (53%) of USTS respondents aged 18 to 25 reported experiencing current serious psychological distress [compared to 10% of the general population] . . . Forty percent (40%) of respondents have attempted suicide at some point in their life, compared to 4.6% in the U.S. population. Forty-eight percent (48%) of respondents have seriously thought about killing themselves in the past year, compared to 4% of the U.S. population, and 82% have had serious thoughts about killing themselves at some point in their life.
While allowing transgender individuals to serve their country is a fair issue worthy of consideration, forcing taxpayers to subsidize sex-reassignment surgeries takes this issue to another level.
Many have asked: Why are should hardworking taxpayers be footing these costly bills? Sex-reassignment surgeries for military members cost taxpayers an average of $8.4 million per year.
Food for thought.