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Transgender Military Battle Continues as 9th Cir. Hears Arguments

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 12, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The legal battle over transgenders in the military is in the hands of a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considered oral arguments in Karnoski v. Trump, which stems from President Trump's ban on transgenders serving in the armed forces. A trial judge blocked the president's plan, and the administration appealed.

The Ninth Circuit, which is expected to issue a decision in the next two months, is the first appeals court to hear arguments over the ban. No matter how the court rules, however, the war is far from over.

Transgender Ban

The controversy goes back to the Obama administration when the Pentagon lifted the ban on transgender men and women. Trump rolled back the policy in August 2017, and the plaintiffs promptly sued.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege the ban is unconstitutionally discriminatory. For the administration, lawyers argue that allowing transgender individuals to serve openly in the military "imposes a risk to military readiness."

While the attorneys argued inside the Ninth Circuit courthouse, the debate continued outside. Staff Sergeant Catherine Schimd, who is one of the plaintiffs, spoke out.

"I'm perfectly capable of doing my job," Schmid said. "My superiors know it, my subordinates know it."

A "New" Plan

The administration has not won any ground in the case. After one judge ordered the military to halt the ban in December 2017, the White House announced a new plan.

Then in April 2018, the trial court enjoined that plan. The judge also denied the administration's request to stay the injunction.

Schmid, in the meantime, has continued her service. "The moment I take off my uniform for the last time, I intend for it to be after retirement," she said.

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