A second federal judge blocked President Trump's proposed ban on transgender members of the military on Tuesday and ruled the administration can't withhold funding for transition-related medical care.
Saying the ban "cannot possibly constitute a legitimate governmental interest," U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis in Baltimore issued an injunction against Trump's order that recruitment of transgender military members stop in March. The president's order might have also forced the expulsion of currently serving members.
In his 53-page ruling, Garbis wrote that transgender servicemembers “demonstrated that they are already suffering harmful consequences such as the cancellation and postponements of surgeries, the stigma of being set apart as inherently unfit, facing the prospect of discharge and inability to commission as an officer, the inability to move forward with long-term medical plans, and the threat to their prospects of obtaining long-term assignments.”
Garbis also wrote that the "capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified tweet of new policy does not trump the methodical and systematic review by military stakeholders."
The order expands upon an Oct. 30 ruling by a Washington, D.C., district judge that put Trump's proposed ban on hold but didn't specify whether the military would continue to pay for transition-related care.
In July, Trump surprised many — including, it was reported, his own top military advisers — by tweeting that he would reverse President Obama's order allowing transgender men and women to serve openly and receive funding for gender-confirmation surgery. A group of six active-duty transgender service members filed a challenge against it days later, claiming it violated their constitutional right to equal protection.
In August, Trump signed a memo directing that transgender recruitment and surgeries be halted. He gave Defense Secretary James Mattis to submit a plan by Feb. 21 on how to implement his order, and a Pentagon advisory panel was assembled. Transgender service members have continued to serve in the meantime.