Military Prepares To Receive First Transgender Recruits On Jan 1 As Trump’s Ban Flounders In Court

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In this July 29, 2017 photo transgender U.S. army captain Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform during an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen near Regensburg, Germany.
AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

The Trump administration is requesting more time to appeal a judge’s block on President Donald Trump’s plan to bar transgender people from military service, the Associated Press reports. If the request is denied, there’s a good chance transgender people will be allowed to enlist in the military and serve openly beginning Jan. 1, 2018.


In October, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the military to open its ranks to transgender troops on Jan. 1 after she concluded that a lawsuit filed against the ban would easily prevail and issued a preliminary injunction, according to The Washington Post.

On Nov. 28, Kollar-Kotelly denied a motion from the administration requesting that the deadline be delayed. Government lawyers then turned to the U.S. Court of Appeals, asking a judge on Dec. 7 to temporarily hold the Jan. 1 requirement until their appeal is resolved.

President Donald Trump announced his proposal to bar transgender people from serving in the military via Twitter on July 26, saying that the ban was necessary to ensure the armed forces remained “focused on decisive and overwhelming victory,” citing “tremendous medical costs” and “disruption that transgender in the military would entail” as justifications.   

The tweets were followed by a presidential directive to prohibit military recruitment of transgender people and force those already serving out of the armed forces. The plan, set to take effect in March 2018, drew backlash from Democrats and civil rights groups, and, in August, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of six transgender active-duty troops, arguing that the ban violated their Fifth Amendment Rights to equal protection.

Kollar-Kotelly ruled in favor of the ACLU on Oct. 30, stating that the Trump administration’s policy “does not appear to be supported by facts.” As The Washington Post notes, the injunction — which will hold until the lawsuit is resolved or dismissed — “effectively reverts Trump’s policy to the one issued under” President Barack Obama’s administration.

“There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effect on the military at all,” Kollar-Kotelly said in the preliminary injunction. “In fact, there is considerable evidence that it is the discharge and banning of such individuals that would have such effects.”

In June 2016, Obama allowed transgender troops to serve openly and receive related medical treatment and also ordered the Pentagon to establish a policy for allowing transgender people to enlist within a year. The decision was made after a Pentagon-commissioned study concluded that transgender troops would have “little impact” on military operations, according to The Washington Post.

The Obama administration’s timeline was extended earlier this year by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who said the Pentagon needed until Jan. 1 to evaluate how recruiting transgender troops would impact “readiness and cohesion.” In August, after Trump announced his intent to reverse Obama’s decision, Mattis formed a panel of experts to review the policy and come up with recommendations for how best to implement the new plan. He was given a Feb. 21 deadline.    

The Department of Justice highlighted the Pentagon’s ongoing review of the policy in a statement released after Kollar-Kotelly’s October ruling.  

“Plaintiffs’ lawsuit challenging military service requirements is premature for many reasons, including that the Defense Department is actively reviewing such service requirements, as the President ordered, and because none of the Plaintiffs have established that they will be impacted by current policies on military service,” the statement read.

The Associated Press reports that the government has asked that the judge decide whether or not to approve the deadline extension by Dec. 11. Meanwhile, the military is “taking steps to be prepared” for accepting transgender recruits on Jan. 1, a Pentagon spokesman told The Washington Post on Dec. 6.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials are warning soldiers and military families to be aware of scammers using the Exchange's logo.

In a news release Wednesday, Exchange officials said scammers using the name "Exchange Inc." have "fooled" soldiers and airmen to broker the sale of used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and boat engines.

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KABUL (Reuters) - The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agrees a pact with the United States.

The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.

Islamic State fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.

The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of "infidels".

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U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Calling aviation geeks in New York City: The British are coming.

In their first visit to the United States since 2008, the Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" will perform an aerial demonstration next week over the Hudson River, according to an Air Force news release. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams will also be part of the show.

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U.S. Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea

Frances and Efrain Santiago, natives of Puerto Rico, wanted to show their support last month for protesters back home seeking to oust the island's governor.

The couple flew the flag of Puerto Rico on the garage of their Kissimmee home. It ticked off the homeowners association.

Someone from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association left a letter at their home, citing a "flag violation" and warning: "Please rectify the listed violation or you may incur a fine."

Frances Santiago, 38, an Army veteran, demanded to know why.

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Todd Rosenberg/AP

A West Point graduate received a waiver from the U.S. Army to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, and play in the NFL while serving as an active-duty soldier.

The waiver for 2nd Lt. Brett Toth was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, who said that Toth signed a three-year deal with the Eagles. Toth graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2018.

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