WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender persons serving in the military to go into effect, while the issue continues to be adjudicated in lower courts.
The Supreme Court’s five conservative members voted Jan. 22 to lift nationwide injunctions that had blocked the ban from going into effect. However, the policy is being appealed in lower courts, and those appeals will still be going forward, despite the ruling.
In July 2017 Trump announced on Twitter that anyone identifying or presenting as a sex different from their biological sex would be prohibited from military service, with extremely limited exceptions. The policy was formally issued in 2018 by then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Previously, under President Barack Obama’s administration, military policies were changed to allow people who do not identify themselves according to their biological sex, or who were seeking surgical “gender transition,” to join the military.
Pentagon representative Lt. Col. Carla Anderson insisted that the policy is in fact not a ban on transgender troops, but, rather, is a “personnel policy” that is “necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat-effective fighting force in the world.”
Slightly under 1,000 people in the military have undergone a gender transition. In 2016, the government estimated that there were about 9,000 transgender troops in the U.S. military. Including reservists, there are about 2.1 million people in the military.
When Trump announced the policy in July 2017, a theology professor at The Catholic University of America said it was the “right decision.”
Those who identify as transgender are “people made in God’s image, and they deserve our compassion, and they deserve to be treated with dignity, but that doesn’t mean that they are fit for combat in the defense of a nation,” Chad Pecknold told CNA.
“Pope Francis is famous for his stress upon dialogue and his non-judgmental approach with respect to the dignity of every person,” he said. “But the Holy Father has also been crystal clear that ‘gender theory’ represents a burning threat to humanity, starkly describing it as a ‘global ideological war on marriage.’”
Also on Tuesday, the Supreme Court declined to act regarding Trump’s plan to end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This means that DACA will stay in place for the time being.
The USCCB has said in previous statements that the bishops are in favor of a “permanent legislative solution” for DACA recipients as well as those under temporary protective status. Said the bishops, this solution is “vital.”