US court bars Trump from changing military policy on service by transgender people

President Donald Trump (Photo by Andrew Harrer - Pool/Getty Images)

A US court has barred President Donald Trump from changing military policy on service by transgender people.

The administration had planned to return to the military’s pre-2016 policy under which no transgender individuals were allowed to serve openly in the armed forces.

Trump announced his plan to ban transgender service members on Twitter in July.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

Trump’s July announcement was met with widespread rebuke by members of both parties and civil rights advocates, who argued that Trump’s decision reversed years of progress for LGBT rights and flew in the face of studies showing minimal impacts on the military.

A 2016 Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Defense Department concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few in the military’s 1.3 million-member force.

The study put the number of transgender people in the military at between 1,320 and 6,630. Gender-change surgery is rare in the general population, and the Rand study estimated the possibility of 30 to 140 new hormone treatments a year in the military, with 25 to 130 gender transition-related surgeries among active service members annually. The cost could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year, an amount that would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health care expenditures, the study found.