The US Supreme Court has given the green light for President Donald Trump’s restrictions on transgender people or those who have undergone gender transition to serve in the military.
The justices of the Supreme Court court voted 5-4 in favour of the existing ban.
While the ruling does not mandate the exclusion of transgender service men and women, it does leave the option of implementation open to the military.
To date, the ban has not been enforced while it faced both legal challenges and divided opinion among top US military officials.
President Trump first announced the ban via Twitter last year, reversing an Obama Administration policy that allowed transgender men and women to enlist in the military.
In a brief released by the US Supreme Court, the opposing judges said that the ban should be lifted because there is no proof that transgender people have caused problems while performing their duties in the military.
“Transgender people have been serving openly in all branches of the United States military since June 2016, including on active duty in combat zones,” the brief said.
“Transgender individuals have been permitted to enlist in the military since January 2018.
“The government has presented no evidence that their doing so harms military readiness, effectiveness or lethality.”
The latest ruling prohibits people who do not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth and those who are planning on transitioning.
When introducing the ban, President Trump declared that it was necessary because the military was to be burdened with medical costs and disruption caused by people who identify themselves as transgender.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military,” he tweeted.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you,” Trump wrote.
Transgender advocates reacted to the decision with outrage.
“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,” LGBTIQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) transgender rights project director Jennifer Levi said.
Out of the four cases presented to the Supreme Court, injunctions were put on hold in three while a fourth federal case referring to Trump’s 2017 policy was not addressed.