Second judge blocks Trump’s transgender troop ban

A federal judge blocked the Trump administration's ban on medical treatment for transgender troops, something an earlier judge left in place when blocking the president's ban on transgender troops. File Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI

Nov. 22 (UPI) — A second federal judge on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump‘s ban on transgender troops, this time also targeting the president’s attempts to stop federal funds from paying for sex-reassignment surgery.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis in Baltimore said Trump’s Aug. 25 memorandum order “cannot possibly constitute a legitimate governmental interest.”

Trump’s memo said the Department of Defense may not recruit transgender people and may not use federal funds to provide medical treatment, including sex-reassignment surgeries and medications.

Garbis’ order came two weeks after Washington, D.C., District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the memo directing the Pentagon to revert to its transgender policy prior to June 2016 cannot be enforced while a lawsuit against the memo works its way through the courts. She said a group of transgender military members are likely to win their suit against the Trump administration.

Garbis’ order, though, goes one step further. Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling left in place the ban on medical treatments for transgender troops; Garbis blocked it.

Plaintiffs have “demonstrated that they are already suffering harmful consequences such as the cancellation and postponements of surgeries, the stigma of being set apart as inherently unfit, facing the prospect of discharge and inability to commission as an officer, the inability to move forward with long-term medical plans, and the threat to their prospects of obtaining long-term assignments,” Garbis wrote.

Despite the ban on transgender healthcare, the Pentagon earlier this month said it would pay for sex-reassignment surgery for an active-duty soldier after doctors deemed the procedure medically necessary.

“Because this servicemember had already begun a sex-reassignment course of treatment, and the treating doctor deemed this surgery medically necessary, a waiver was approved by the director of the Defense Health Agency,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said. “The Supplemental Health Care Program will cover this surgery in accordance with the Department’s interim guidance on transgender servicemembers.

A study by the Palm Center in August found the cost to replace the transgender troops banned by the Trump order would cost $960 million, many times more than the $8.4 million it costs annually for gender transition healthcare.

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