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Judge Says Trump Administration Must Prove Transgender Ban Is Not Based On Prejudice

Elaine Thompson
Plaintiffs in the transgender ban lawsuit outside the federal courthouse in Seattle on March 27, 2018

A federal judge in Seattle says the Trump administration still has to prove its ban on transgender troops is constitutional. The judge says people who are transgender can continue serving for now.

It was last July that President Donald Trump first tweeted he was going to ban transgender troops in the military.

Civil rights groups quickly sued and got a temporary injunction against the ban put in place. The Trump  administration then said it would allow some transgender troops to serve in limited cases. But, rights groups argued it was still discriminatory.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman  agreed to keep the injunction in place and said the administration will have to meet a very high bar  or "strict scrutiny" to prove the policy doesn’t violate anti-discrimination laws.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says the ruling bodes well for challengers including the state of Washington.

“It is very, very rare for an entity like the federal government to survive strict scrutiny from the federal courts when they’re looking at a policy like this one that clearly seems to discriminate against a group of individuals," Ferguson said.

In her ruling, Judge Pechman wrote  “because transgender people have long been subjected to systemic oppression and forced to live in silence they are a protected class.”

She says that’s the reason the federal government will have to show the policy was not motivated by prejudice.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.