The Supreme Court Lifts the Nationwide Injunctions Preventing the President’s Ban on Transgender People from Serving in the US Military

Amid all the other hullabaloo today, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to lift the nationwide injunctions that were preventing the President’s ban on transgender people serving in the US military.

From The Associated Press:

The Trump administration can go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender men and women while court challenges continue, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

The high court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the court’s five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying they would not have. The order from the court was brief and procedural, with no elaboration from the justices.

The court’s decision clears the way for the Pentagon to bar enlistment by people who have undergone a gender transition. It will also allow the administration to require that military personnel serve as members of their biological gender unless they began a gender transition under less restrictive Obama administration rules.

The Trump administration has sought for more than a year to change the Obama-era rules and had urged the justices to take up cases about its transgender troop policy immediately, but the court declined for now.

Those cases will continue to move through lower courts and could eventually reach the Supreme Court again. The fact that five justices were willing to allow the policy to take effect for now, however, makes it more likely the Trump administration’s policy will ultimately be upheld.

Both the Justice and Defense departments released statements saying they were pleased by the Supreme Court’s action. The Pentagon said its policy on transgender troops is based on professional military judgment and necessary to “ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force.” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said lower court rulings had forced the military to “maintain a prior policy that poses a risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”

Before beginning to implement its policy the administration is expected to need to make a procedural filing in one case in Maryland challenging the plan. That request could be made this week.

Groups that sued over the Trump administration’s policy said they ultimately hoped to win their lawsuits over the policy. Jennifer Levi, an attorney for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said in a statement that the “Trump administration’s cruel obsession with ridding our military of dedicated and capable service members because they happen to be transgender defies reason and cannot survive legal review.”

More at the link.

Today’s lifting of the nationwide stay on the President’s policy is frustrating, but it is not the end of the case. The Supreme Court majority – its five conservative/GOP appointed justices – were willing to lift the nation wide stay, but not consolidate and fast track the separate cases wending through the Federal court system. This means that these separate suits to overturn the policy will continue through the courts and it is possible that as they proceed through the appellate phase that new injunctions will be implemented. As disturbing and discouraging as today’s ruling is, it is not the last word on this issue. It is entirely possible that the various suits take so long to get through the Federal courts, which will largely close on Monday because of the partial government shutdown, that a Democratic administration will come into office and reverse the ruling. That is small comfort, but the fight isn’t over.

And it is very important to continue this fight. Especially because the President’s decision to do this was not driving by a request from then Secretary of Defense Mattis. This was a completely unnecessary policy change. It will actually have real negative effects on readiness by making it harder to make recruiting quotas and by driving Americans who feel called, for whatever reason, to serve in the military away from that service. There’s no way to know for sure, but the President’s decision to change this policy on the fly was likely driven by the Vice President and his senior policy advisor Stephen Miller. This type of pointlessly cruel policy is just their speed.

It is also important to know that important, high visibility veterans, both cis and transgender, are planning to fight on.

Here’s Senator Duckworth’s response:



[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — In response to the Supreme Court’s order this morning allowing Donald Trump’s discriminatory ban on transgender servicemembers to take effect, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released the following statement:

“When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter on that dusty field in Iraq, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white, male or female. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind. If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve—no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Today’s decision is disheartening not only because it will help the Trump Administration discriminate against an ever-shrinking portion of our population who are willing to serve in uniform, but also because it enables the Administration to further disrupt to our military and weaken our national security.

“I hope the Court takes up this case and loudly and clearly tells the Administration that this sort of discrimination has no place in our military, and I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress will send the same message and show our servicemembers that we have their backs.”

And here’s retired Senior Chief Special Warfare Officer and former member of Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) Kristin Beck’s response:

Senator Duckworth and Chief Beck are fighting, in the words of the DEVGRU motto, For Something Greater.

Open thread!


The Best Men Can Be

Well, this made me tear up.

At the website, this is pretty amazing.

Thirty years ago, we launched our The Best A Man Can Get tagline.

Since then, it has been an aspirational statement, reflecting standards that many men strive to achieve.

But turn on the news today and it’s easy to believe that men are not at their best. Many find themselves at a crossroads, caught between the past and a new era of masculinity. While it is clear that changes are needed, where and how we can start to effect that change is less obvious for many. And when the changes needed seem so monumental, it can feel daunting to begin. So, let’s do it together.

It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. And as a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man. With that in mind, we have spent the last few months taking a hard look at our past and coming communication and reflecting on the types of men and behaviors we want to celebrate. We’re inviting all men along this journey with us – to strive to be better, to make us better, and to help each other be better.

From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette. In the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and so much more.

As part of The Best Men Can Be campaign, Gillette is committing to donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations executing programs in the United States designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal “best” and become role models for the next generation.

Our tagline needs to continue to inspire us all to be better every day, and to help create a new standard for boys to admire and for men to achieve… Because the boys of today are the men of tomorrow.

We’ve all got work to do. And it starts today.

Also, too – an article about the American Psychological Association’s Guidlines for Psychological Practice with Boys And Men.


Open thread!

Be A Masshole!

This is without doubt my favorite ad of the cycle.

Backstory:  In 2016, Massachusetts approved a law that adds gender identity to the list of reasons people can’t be discriminated against in public spaces.

This year, bigots opponents managed to place a question on the ballot that would repeal the law. Somewhat confusingly, the question is worded so that it takes a “yes” vote to retain the law — a quirk of drafting (perhaps deliberate) that casts some doubt on the polling that shows a two to one edge here opposed to discriminating against trans people.  I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re all good, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the following is a perfect little slice of campaign art:

Open thread, y’all.

The Trumpies Define Sex

Let’s not let this story get buried under the garbage stream emanating from the White House.

The New York Times obtained a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services attempting to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance.

The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

So many things wrong. Let’s look at them one at a time.

Sex has to do with biology, gender with the social construction of one’s role. The quotes from the memo all relate to sex, although the reporter(s) seem to conflate gender with sex. So let’s focus on biological sex.

The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with

It’s possible that as many as 2% of babies have ambiguous genitalia.

Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.

There are difficulties there, too. In addition to the XX and XY chromosomes that the author(s) of the memo seem to be thinking of, people may have extra sex chromosomes, resulting in XXY and XYY combinations. Those triplets may be associated with ambiguous genitalia, or they may not.

Does this mean that all babies will have to be tested for their sex chromosomes? Will the proper sex be tattooed onto them for entry into the proper bathrooms? Or will there be a genital check before bathroom entry?

Science says that genitals may be ambiguous and we know that those additional sex chromosome combinations exist. That’s objective. So the proposed standard is neither “clear, grounded in science, objective, [nor] administrable.”

And that’s without considering gender dysphoria and the treatments that mitigate it.

Presumably the purpose of attempting to define sex once and for all at birth is to placate those who are uncomfortable with fluid gender identities. Or perhaps those writing the report themselves believe, or want to believe that sex and gender are that simple.

The Trumpies, of course, want transgender people out of the military. Vox lists a number of other actions they have taken. This is one more step toward making them nonpersons.

This article gives more of the biology and raises the question of whether we think the government should be keeping a genital registry.

It won’t hurt to write your congressional delegation about this now, but I suspect they’re distracted with the election.

The Laughter

The Wall Street Journal has a headline tonight.

Trigger warning: Talk about rape below the fold. I find this very upsetting myself.

Read more