WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court sided with the Trump administration Friday in a case about the Pentagon’s effort to restrict military service by transgender people, but the ruling won’t change who can serve or enlist at this point.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that a lower court judge was wrong to block the Pentagon from implementing plans to restrict the service of transgender individuals. The unsigned ruling will not allow the Pentagon to implement its policy, however, because other judges have entered orders blocking the administration in similar cases.
The appeals court ruling said the military’s plan appears to rely on the “considered professional judgment” of “appropriate military officials.” It noted that the plan “appears to permit some transgender individuals to serve in the military.”
Military policy until a few years ago had barred service by transgender individuals. That changed under President Barack Obama’s administration. The military announced in 2016 that transgender individuals already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly. And the military set July 1, 2017, as the date when transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist.
But the Trump’s administration delayed the enlistment date, saying the issue needed further study. While that study was ongoing, the president tweeted in late July 2017 that the government would not allow “Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” He later directed the military to return to its policy before the Obama administration changes.
Groups representing transgender individuals responded by suing the administration. The Trump administration lost early rounds in those cases, with courts issuing nationwide injunctions barring it from altering course.