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President Trump's Ban on many
Transgender persons in the U.S. military:

A U.S. Court of Appeals rules in favor
of President Trump's Ban (the Mattis Plan).

(Preliminary information)

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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 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 BG because only some feel distress because of it. 1 The Mattis plan allows those transgender service personnel who do not currently exhibit distress to join the military.

However, the ruling has 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 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-JAN-13, 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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This topic is currently active in the courts.
This essay will be augmented as new developments occur.

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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:

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

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