WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s request to postpone a Jan. 1 deadline for the US Armed Forces to begin accepting transgender recruits was rejected Monday by a federal judge.
US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly previously struck down President Donald Trump’s executive order forbidding the military from recruiting transgender men and women, labeling it as unconstitutional.
The president’s directive had raised concerns that some transgender people already serving in the Armed Forces would be forced out beginning in March 2018.
In overturning the executive order, Kollar-Kotelly effectively reinstated the transgender-friendly recruitment policy announced by then-President Barack Obama in 2016.
The judge then gave the Defense Department until New Year’s Day to begin accepting transgender recruits.
Lawyers for the Trump administration asked Kollar-Kotelly to give the Pentagon more time to implement her order, but the judge turned down the motion.
“With only a brief hiatus, Defendants have had the opportunity to prepare for the accession of transgender individuals into the military for nearly one-and-a-half years,” she said in her ruling.
The Defense Department said it would obey the court decision even as the Pentagon and the Justice Department continued to pursue “relief from those court orders in order to allow an ongoing policy review scheduled to be completed before the end of March.”
A study commissioned by the Pentagon found that in 2016, the number of transgender people serving in the Armed Forces was between 1,300 and 6,600, out of total of 1.3 million active duty personnel.