Supreme Court allows Trump's transgender military ban to resume; human rights group objects

Amnesty International spoke to Salon about its opposition to Trump's transgender military ban

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 22, 2019 2:24PM (EST)


The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that President Donald Trump's ban on transgender individuals serving in the military would be put into effect despite ongoing legal cases against it in lower courts.

The high court's decision was that it would grant a stay on two lower courts' injunctions that had put a block on the president's policy, according to NPR. Although they forbade the Trump administration from leapfrogging the appeals court, the bench allowed the Pentagon to prevent transgender people from enlisting and to remove them from the service if they are already enlisted.

"This administration seems obsessed with stripping rights from Americans, particularly from trans Americans," Tarah Demant, Amnesty International USA's Director of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Program, told Salon. "This is one of many moves we've seen, and you guys have documented, to attack transgender people, from this trans military ban — which is —to people's rights, and to the efficacy of our military — to stripping rights from trans students, who want to use bathrooms so they can be safe. This is part of a pattern by that administration and there seems to be this — really 'obsession' is the word I keep coming back to — to stripping rights from transgender people."

She added, "This move by the Trump administration, and their continuing moves to strip rights from transgender Americans, send a terrible signal not only to transgender people, but to all people, which is that your rights are under attack by this administration. That this administration will stop at nothing to strip rights from some of our most vulnerable people. And here, these transgender people who are serving in the military have volunteered to serve their country in a specific way. And the Trump administration has so much vitriol, so much hate against this particular population, that they're working to take people out of the US military. That sends signals on so many levels. It's baffling the extent to which this administration is willing to strip rights from transgender people."

By contrast Terry Schilling, executive director at American Principles Project, released a statement saying that "in 2016, it became very clear that President Obama prioritized his social engineering agenda over the well-being and security of our nation, and his military policy was no exception. The Pentagon has no business using our precious tax dollars allocated to defending our nation for funding sex-change hormone treatments and surgeries."

Demant's position was diametrically at odds with the stand taken by Schilling.

"So for people in the military, there is a very clear message: You are not welcome. You are not fully deserving of rights. You are not fully American," Demant explained. "But to all people, particularly the transgender people, which is that you're not fully human. These are basic human rights — the right to equality, the right to equality and treatment under the law — is a basic human right. And to try to strip people of that right is to try to strip them of their humanity."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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