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Religious Tolerance logo



A U.S. Court of Appeals rules
in favor of President Trump's
Ban on Transgender military.
Transgender cartoon character
added to TV show.

Intersexual individual seeks
a different passport ID.

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During 2018, a federal District Court judge in Washington DC blocked President Trump's ban on transgender military members because it was seen as violating the constitutional rights of service members. The case is called "Doe v. Mattis."

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard arguments in the case on 2018-DEC-10. On DEC-28, the court ruled against the lower court's decision, stating that its injunction was based upon:

"... an erroneous finding that the [2018] Mattis Plan was the equivalent of [the earlier] blanket ban on transgender service. ... Although the Mattis Plan continues to bar many transgender persons from joining or serving in the military, the record indicates that the Plan allows some transgender persons barred under the military’s standards prior to the Carter Policy to join and serve in the military."

The earlier plan banned all transgender persons from the military. The revised Mattis Plan only bans those transgender persons who either:

  • Suffer from Gender Dysphoria (GD). Before the year 2013, this was called "Gender Identity Disorder." It involves feelings of anxiety and distress related to one's assigned gender or sex. It can take the form of eating disorders, attempted suicide, depression, anxiety, and social isolation. All transgender individuals experience a mismatch between their biological gender -- typically as it was diagnosed at birth -- and their current gender identity. However, only some transgender individuals experience GD because only some feel distress because of it. 1,7


  • Had undergone a “gender transition,” including received hormones or gender confirmation therapy. 7

The Mattis plan allows those transgender service personnel who do not currently exhibit distress to join the military.

However, the ruling had little impact because:

  • The Appeals Court determined that their "decision is not a final determination on the merits." Thus, the district court case will continue.

  • Other federal courts have also found the ban to be unconstitutional.

And so, multiple cases are headed towards a resolution in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Leaders in two national LGBT groups responded negatively to the Court of Appeal's ruling:

  • Shannon Minter, the legal director of The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), described the ruling as:

    "A devastating slap in the face to transgender service members who have proved their fitness to serve and their dedication to this country. ... We will keep fighting this cruel and irrational policy, which serves no purpose other than to weaken the military and punish transgender service members for their patriotism and service."

  • Jennifer Levi, the director of the Transgender Rights Project in GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) described the court decision -- which is based on an:

    "... absurd idea that forces transgender people to suppress who they are in order to serve -- is not a ban. ... It ignores the reality of transgender people’s lives, with devastating consequences, and rests on a complete failure to understand who transgender people are. It is also destabilizing to the military to so dramatically reverse a policy that has been in place for over two years, that senior military officials acknowledge has operated with no problems." 2

  • Marty Lederman, writing for Just Security, said:

    "Although the Mattis Plan continues to bar many transgender persons from joining or serving in the military, the record indicates that the Plan allows some transgender persons barred under the military’s standards prior to the Carter Policy to join and serve in the military." 3

As of 2019-FEB-23, the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet decided to accept or deny appeals in this matter. They are expected to respond in the near future. The High Court also has not acted on other criticial human rights cases involving guns, DACA, abortion access, or Title VII in the

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is a U.S. national non-profit legal rights organization. They advocate an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression. They have joined with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) to create a pledge to "stop the Trump-Pence transgender military ban." 4,5

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2019-JAN-29: Cartoon Network adds a transgender character to their Steven Universe show:

A transgender theme was introduced in the final episode of the fifth season of the show Steven Universe. "Steven" is the name of a child in the show who has a human-looking alien as a mother, and a human father. Steven visits the Homeworld of the aliens and attempts to convince the Empire's rulers that he is really a boy.

Alex Bollinger, writing for LGBTQNation, says:

" 'I'm me. I've always been me,' Steven pleas to his relatives as they are convinced he is a girl." 8

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2019-FEB-22: Court orders the issuance of the first U.S. non-binary passport to an intersexual applicant:

Webmaster's note:

In the following article, "they" and "them" are used in place of "he" or "she" and "him" or "her" for reasons that will become obvious.

According to Wikipedia:

"Intersex people are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics, including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals" that are atypical."

Dana Zzyym is intersexual and non-binary -- i.e. they neither identify as either female or male. Dana has a Colorado driver's license with the gender showing as "X," and more recently applied for a passport that also has a similar identification."

The State Department refused to issue them a passport. Unfortunately, the government passport software only recognizes two genders: male or female. Theb agency claims that to create a third gender option "X" would take about 24 months and cost about $11 million. The other option would be to create a special passport showing Dana's gender as "X." However the Department indicates that this is not practical and would cause major screening hurdles for Dana.

At least ten other countries provide a third gender marker on their passports. Also, U.S. air carriers now allow nonbinary gender options when customers book their flight.

Dana sued in a Colorado federal court and won a ruling requiring the government to issue an accurate passport with other than a "F" or "M" designation.

The Government has sought a stay of the federal court ruling and is appealing the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit." 6

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Gender dysphoria," Wikipedia, as on 2019-JAN-10, at:
  2. Anon, "US Court rules in favour of Trump policy on military transgender ban," Army Technology, 2019-JAN-09, at:
  3. Marty Lederman, "Untangling the Issues in the “Transgender in the Military” Litigation," Just Security, 2019-JAN-01. at:
  4. "Sign the pledge to stop the Trump-Pence trans military ban," GLAD/NCLR, 2019, at:
  5. "Intersex," Wikepedia, as on 2019-FEB-09, at:
  6. Zack Ford, "Federal court orders State Department to issue the country’s first nonbinary passport," Think Progress, 2019-FEB-22, at:
  7. J.L. Gaynor, "Trump continues assault on LGBT rights," Out In Jersey, 2019-FEB-21, at:
  8. Alex Bollinger, " 'Steven Universe' season finale brings a transgender story to the Cartoon Network, LGBTQNation, 2019-JAN-29, at:

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Copyright © Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
B.A. Robinson
Originally posted on: 2019-JAN-13
Latest update: 2019-FEB-23

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