The Pentagon's policy banning some transgender individuals from joining the military will go into effect on April 12 after appellate judges lifted the final injunction preventing the policy from being implemented, Defense and Justice officials said.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the Justice Department, which had filed an emergency motion asking that the transgender policy be allowed to go forward.
The decision comes a week after a federal judge ruled that an injunction against the policy was still in place because a group which had filed a federal lawsuit challenging the transgender ban had until March 29 to request a rehearing.
"We are pleased the court cleared the way for the Department of Defense to be able to implement personnel policies it determined necessary to best defend our nation," said Kelly Laco, a Justice Department spokeswoman.
Shannon Minter, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the transgender policy, said the court's decision means an injunction would no longer be in place if his clients request a rehearing by March 29.
"The court of appeals granted the government's request to make its prior opinion vacating the injunction effective today, which means the injunction is dissolved, and that, at the moment, there is no legal barrier to the government's intended plan to start enforcing the transgender military ban on April 12," Minter told Task & Purpose.
The Pentagon's policy will prevent people with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from joining the military unless they have been medically stable for 36 months and if they have not yet had medical treatment to transition to a new gender.
Defense officials insist the policy is not a blanket ban against transgender service members. Transgender individuals with diagnosis of gender dysphoria who are currently serving or under contract to enlist or be commissioned are exempt from the policy.
"By our best data, there are approximately 9,000 transgender service members serving honorably today, most of them under the terms and conditions and standards of their biological sex," a defense official told reporters on March 13.
"About 1,000 have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. That leaves 8,000 currently serving, who serve in the confines of their biological sex. This policy doesn't apply to them. They're transgender service members and they're certainly not banned."