The Trump administration on Friday asked the Supreme Court to fast-track a ruling on the Pentagon’s policy of restricting military service by transgender people.
It is requesting that the top court review lower court rulings blocking a military ban on transgender people.
Federal courts have prevented the military from implementing a policy barring some transgender Americans from service.
The administration wants the court to hear the dispute this term.
The president announced on Twitter in 2017 that the country would no longer “accept or allow” transgender Americans to serve in the military, citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption”.
The administration has since limited the policy to transgender individuals with a history of gender dysphoria.
Following legal challenges, judges in federal courts in three jurisdictions – Washington state, California, and Washington, DC – have refused to lift injunctions issued against the president’s original ban to allow the updated policy to be enforced.
The US government is appealing those decisions. The petitions ask for the top court to consolidate the cases for decision and consider the dispute during its current term, which ends in June or July 2019.
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Between 4,000 and 10,000 US active-duty and reserve service members are believed to be transgender. An Obama administration policy change has allowed them to serve in the US military.
The revised policy under the Trump administration says that transgender individuals with a history of gender dysphoria are barred from military service “except under certain limited circumstances”.
The new policy approved by President Trump allows current transgender service members with gender dysphoria to continue serving if they were diagnosed after the Obama administration’s policy took effect.
People with gender dysphoria experience distress or discomfort as a result of a disparity between a their biological sex (assigned at birth) and what they feel their gender to be.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, not all transgender individuals suffer from gender dysphoria.