A federal judge on Tuesday contradicted the Trump administration's "incorrect" claim that no legal blocks remain for it to enforce a contentious policy to restrict many transgender individuals from the U.S. armed forces starting on April 12.

In a three-page notice, U.S. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said an injunction that she issued against the policy in 2017 remains in place.

"Defendants were incorrect in claiming that there was no longer an impediment to the military's implementation" of the transgender policy, the judge wrote.

A spokeswoman for Pentagon said it was consulting with the U.S. Justice Department, which declined to comment.

Three other injunctions issued by judges in separate cases have already been lifted, in part by a Jan. 22 U.S. Supreme Court decision and subsequent action by a federal judge in Maryland.

That prompted the U.S. Defense Department to sign a memo on March 12 that would enforce its service limitations on transgender people, effective one month later.

Kollar-Kotelly's injunction, however, had been set aside by a three-judge panel of the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 4. The panel said it would hold off on issuing a "mandate" to finalize the higher court's decision until it resolves any request by the plaintiffs who challenged the transgender policy as a violation of the U.S. Constitution to rehear their appeal.

"The Trump administration cannot circumvent the judicial process just to fast track its baseless, unfair ban on transgender servicemembers," said attorney Jennifer Levi of the anti-discrimination group GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), who represents the plaintiffs.

President Donald Trump in 2017 announced a plan to ban transgender people from the military, reversing Democratic former President Barack Obama's policy of allowing transgender troops to serve openly and get medical transition care.

In March 2018, Trump backed a revised policy from then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It banned, in some circumstances, transgender people with gender dysphoria, or distress due to internal conflict between physical gender and gender identity.

The Mattis policy also banned transgender people who seek or have undergone gender transition steps.

For seven years, Kyndra Purnell could find no clinic near her home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that would prescribe the hormones she desperately needed. She was forced to rely on the black market, buying estrogen injections from the few other transgender women she knew in the area.

Then, about three years ago, she found Chase Brexton Health Services, a medical provider in Baltimore that offers hormone replacement therapy and other types of health care for the transgender community.

But the clinic was more than two hours from Purnell’s home in Ocean City. Still, every three months, she made the drive, taking time off from her full-time job.

“Down here, there’s not much help for people like us,” Purnell said. “So many people are just at a loss.”

In large swaths of Maryland and Virginia, options for medical care are limited for those in the transgender community. Their need for specialized care and LGBT-friendly providers can force them to travel many hours. Of the 1,837 patients Whitman-Walker Health — a D.C. provider that specializes in LGBTQ care — served in 2018, more than half lived in Virginia or Maryland; about 50 patients traveled from as far away as South Carolina and Alabama.

In response, a local transgender advocacy group has launched an initiative to try to close gaps in gender-affirming health care. Last fall, the DC Area Transmasculine Society, known as DCATS, rolled out an online databasethat allows transgender individuals to recommend and review medical and wellness providers based on their competency of transgender needs.

Health care is the primary question that comes up in support groups for the transgender community, said Jamison Crowell, the executive director of DCATS. For years, many have used word-of-mouth to share suggestions for trans-friendly medical providers, posting in Facebook groups and other online forums. The Yelp-style online lists have had inaccurate or outdated information about providers in the D.C. region, Crowell said.

What makes this database, called the Trans Wellness Information Network, different is that each review must be submitted and authorized by someone who identifies as transgender. About 125 providers have been added to the database so far.

After filling the database with recommendations from the transgender community, the group plans to have local providers fill out a questionnaire that DCATS staff will evaluate to create a five-star measure of trans competency.

The questionnaire will include free-response questions asking providers to describe any training they have received specific to catering to the transgender community. It will also ask to what extent a provider incorporates the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care and whether a provider’s intake process allows patients to indicate the name and pronouns they would like to be called.

It also aims to hold workshops and panels to educate local medical and wellness providers, in collaboration with Trans Healthcare MD , which advocates for expanded access to transgender-competent health care.

Lee Blinder, a founder of Trans Healthcare MD, said the group has focused in large part on urging Planned Parenthood to begin offering hormone replacement therapy in its Maryland clinics, as it does in clinics in 28 other states.

Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington recently told The Washington Post that it plans to do just that. It will begin offering hormone therapy at each of its three regional health centers, in Northeast Washington, Suitland, Md., and Gaithersburg, Md.

The move will expand access to care in some parts of Maryland but will still leave gaping holes in areas further from the District and Baltimore. In the western part of the state, for example, Blinder said very few — if any — clinics allow a transgender patient to use what is called the “informed consent” model of accessing hormone replacement therapy. The model, pushed by transgender rights advocates and used by providers such as Whitman-Walker and Chase Brexton, allows transgender patients to quickly obtain a prescription for hormone replacement therapy after discussing the risks with a medical provider.

The alternative, older method — still used by many health centers in the region — requires a patient to first meet with a mental health provider, who must then sign a letter authorizing the use of hormones. That requirement, Blinder says, means therapists become “gatekeepers” capable of creating further barriers to receiving hormone treatment. Some mental health providers require a patient to meet for months of therapy before starting hormones.

“People can get stuck in the system for a long time,” Blinder said. “Many people don’t end up getting a letter at all. The provider will make up excuses as to why they’re not ready.”

It’s just one of the hurdles transgender patients can endure. Despite the Affordable Care Act regulation preventing providers and health insurance companies from discriminating against transgender people, many patients continue to battle with insurance companies that refuse to cover certain procedures. Sometimes the toughest feat is simply finding a primary care provider that will use a transgender patient’s correct name and pronouns.

Purnell, the transgender woman from the Eastern Shore, who now lives in Salisbury, Md., said she frequently has to go to a nearby emergency room for recurring cluster headaches. While the hospital staff has known her for years, they continue to call her by the wrong name, Purnell said. Last week, Purnell said, a doctor walked into the hospital room and suggested that there had been a mix-up.

“I think we’re in the wrong room,” the doctor said, Purnell recounted. “This has you marked down as him.”

Elliot Ayres, a 22-year-old transgender man in the District, said he once went to a primary care provider in Northern Virginia and asked about some pain he had been experiencing from binding his chest. The doctor not only misgendered Ayres — he didn’t even know what a binder was, Ayres said.

As frustrating as the appointment was, Ayres said it wasn’t particularly surprising.

“Trans people oftentimes have really low expectations,” Ayres said. “Our success stories are like, being gendered correctly and people using our names. I think we can ask for more.”

Transgender residents and those who don’t identify as either male or female would be allowed to change their name and sex information on their birth certificates under a bill passed by the New Hampshire House this week.

The bill would require an applicant to get notarized statements from health care providers stating that in the provider’s opinion, an individual is male, female or neither and is reasonably expected to continue as such for the foreseeable future. New birth certificates would be issued, but the original certificates would also be kept.

Supporters say birth certificates already can be changed for a variety of reasons, including adoption or someone who has had gender reassignment surgery. Opponents argued that birth certificates record “facts, not feelings.”

The bill now goes to the Senate.

A gym buff was convicted this week of sexually assaulting a transgender woman in the bathroom of a Manhattan Starbucks.

Taren Tyler, 33, was found guilty of criminal sex act and sexual abuse at trial in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday.

The 27-year-old victim said she met Tyler for their first date at the coffee shop near Penn Station on Jan. 30, 2017.

Tyler went to the bathroom to roll a marijuana cigarette and asked the woman to meet him in the restroom, the victim said.

When she got there, Tyler grabbed her by the hair and pulled her inside, the woman testified.

“What the hell are you doing?” she asked, according to her testimony.

She said she did not move or scream because she was “frozen” with fear.

Tyler, who is a bulky 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, used his strength to force the 5-foot-7, 160-pound victim to perform oral sex on him.

Then he raped her as he warned her not to get him angry.

The victim, who hasn’t yet had sex reassignment surgery, said she hadn’t told Tyler she was transgender at the time of the assault, as they met just a few days prior at a New York Sports Club on the Upper West Side where she worked.

Tyler had a completely different take on the date.

He testified they got hot and heavy at the table at Starbucks and she put her hand on his groin.

Inside the bathroom, Tyler said the victim willingly gave him oral sex without him knowing about her trans status, which “traumatized” him and “grossed” him out when she disclosed it after.

“I was shocked and dazed,” he said. “And angry.”

“I felt like she took something from me,” he added.

He claimed that he was “embarrassed” by the whole ordeal.

“I'm like, ‘Can you just leave?’ ” he testified about his reaction. “Just leave me the f--k alone.”

“You didn’t tell me. You sucked my d--k,” he barked at her as she tried to explain herself, according to court records.

Tyler’s lawyer, Glenn Hardy, said the accuser’s story didn’t add up.

On the stand, the woman said that after the assault she took a walk and shared a joint with Tyler.

“No sane person walks down the street sharing a joint with a guy she’s afraid is going to kill her,” Hardy said.

“And a Starbucks empty on a Monday night?” he added. “This case had reasonable doubt written all over it.”

Tyler faces up to 25 years in prison at his April 2 sentencing.

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department has approved a new policy that will largely bar transgender troops and military recruits from transitioning to another sex, and require most individuals to serve in their birth gender.

The memo outlining the new policy was obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, and it comes after a lengthy and complicated legal battle. It falls short of the all-out transgender ban that was initially ordered by President Donald Trump. But it will likely force the military to eventually discharge transgender individuals who need hormone treatments or surgery and can't or won't serve in their birth gender.

The order says the military services must implement the new policy in 30 days, giving some individuals a short window of time to qualify for gender transition if needed. And it allows service secretaries to waive the policy on a case-by-case basis.
 
Under the new rules, currently serving transgender troops and anyone who has signed an enlistment contract by April 12 may continue with plans for hormone treatments and gender transition if they have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

But after April 12, no one with gender dysphoria who is taking hormones or has transitioned to another gender will be allowed to enlist. And any currently serving troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria after April 12 will have to serve in their birth gender and will be barred from taking hormones or getting transition surgery.

The memo lays out guidelines for discharging service members based on the new policy. It says a service member can be discharged based on a diagnosis of gender dysphoria if he or she is "unable or unwilling to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with his or her biological sex, or seeks transition to another gender."

It adds that troops must be formally counseled and given a chance to change their decision before the discharge is finalized.

In a statement Tuesday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the ban "cowardly."

"The President's revival of his bigoted, disgusting ban on transgender servicemembers is a stunning attack on the patriots who keep us safe and on the most fundamental ideals of our nation," the California Democrat said. "The President's years-long insistence on his cowardly ban makes clear that prejudice, not patriotism, guides his decisions."

Palm Center, a California research institute, protested the new policy Tuesday. Director Aaron Belkin said, "The Trump administration is determined to bring back 'don't ask, don't tell,' a policy that forced service members to choose between serving their country and telling the truth about who they were."

The final legal injunction blocking the new policy was lifted last week, allowing the Pentagon to move forward. But restrictions on transgender troops are likely to face ongoing legal challenges and have been slammed by members of Congress as discriminatory and self-defeating.

The memo was signed by David L. Norquist, who is currently serving as the deputy defense secretary.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said in February that barring service by transgender individuals "would cost us recruits at a time when so few Americans are willing to serve." She spoke at a hearing in which transgender troops testified that transitioning to another sex made them stronger and more effective members of the military.

Until a few years ago service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender, but that changed under the Obama administration. Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in 2016 that transgender people already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly. And the military set July 1, 2017, as the date when transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist.

After Trump took office, however, his administration delayed the enlistment date and called for additional study to determine if allowing transgender individuals to serve would affect military readiness or effectiveness.

A few weeks later, Trump caught military leaders by surprise, tweeting that the government won't accept or allow transgender individuals to serve "in any capacity" in the military. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," he wrote.

His demand for a ban triggered a legal and moral quagmire, as the Pentagon faced the prospect of throwing out service members who had willingly come forward as transgender after being promised they would be protected and allowed to serve. And as legal battles blocked the ban from taking effect, the Obama-era policy continued and transgender individuals were allowed to begin enlisting in the military a little more than a year ago.

 

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