WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has filed a last-minute appeal to delay transgender recruits from joining the military, despite recent federal court rulings that the Pentagon must be ready to receive new troops on Jan. 1.
“The military will not be adequately prepared to begin processing transgender applicants for military service by January 1, 2018, and requiring the military to do so may negatively impact military readiness,” attorneys for President Donald Trump argued in a late Wednesday filing at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Pentagon has been working to prepare to receive the new recruits by the Jan. 1 deadline, and has been ready to do so for months, advocates for transgender forces said.
“The administration is not telling the truth,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a research center that works on gay, lesbian, and transgender causes. “The military had already done most of the work to lift the ban by the presidential transition, it’s certainly ready to make the change now.”
The Palm Center estimates there are 12,800 transgender forces serving in the military and in recent weeks has gathered statements of support from former service secretaries that they be allowed to continue serving.
Trump directed that no transgender personnel be allowed to serve in a tweet earlier this summer. A flurry of temporary instructions by DoD on how to move forward and multiple lawsuits have followed.
Former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James compared the transition to the 1993 switch under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and said the military has had plenty of time to prepare.
“The services were originally given one year to prepare for the enlistment of transgender applicants, and were then provided with another six months to get the job done,” James said,
“It took less than a year for the services to successfully prepare for DADT repeal, and they have now had 18 months to get ready for transgender enlistment,” she said. “When I left office in January, we had already done most of the work to prepare for this policy change, which is no more complicated than the myriad of issues that the military manages successfully every day. It is time to get on with it.”
When asked if the Pentagon would continue to prepare for the Jan. 1 deadline now, given this latest court filing asking the federal court to intervene by Dec. 11, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White referred questions to the Justice Department.