The U.S. Department of Justice urged the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to allow President Trump’s administration to uphold his transgender military ban, according to the Oregonian.
The Justice Department argued to lift a federal judge’s preliminary injunction that halted the ban and to declare the ban constitutional.
The new transgender policy was announced in March of this year. Trump’s blanket ban was revoked and replaced with the new policy, which stated that transgender people with gender dysphoria will be disqualified from military service, except in specific circumstances.
A representative of the department, Brinton Lucas, argued that the current policy, which allows transgender people to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces openly, “imposes a risk to military readiness.”
Lucas went on to say that 71 percent of Americans, between the ages of 17 and 24, don’t meet the military’s strict standards, preventing them from enlisting. “That doesn’t mean anyone who can’t meet standards is stigmatized,” he said.
Military officials are concerned that transgender people have higher rates of psychiatric hospitalization and suicidal behavior, according to Lucas. Furthermore, costly transition-related treatment could keep transgender troops off the job.
During the arguments for the ban, a conservative-leaning panel of judges indicated possible support of the reversal of the injunction, according to Slate.
The hearing marked the first time a federal appeals court has heard oral arguments for the ban. It also marked the first time a court has suggested the ban could be constitutional. All four district courts found it violates basic equal-protection principles.
If the court upholds the policy, it won’t immediately take effect, but it could compel the plaintiffs to take their case to the Supreme Court. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote who LGBTQ advocates hoped would vote the ban to be unconstitutional, has recently been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.