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Ruling to block ban cheered by local transgender veterans

By MEGHAN OTTOLINI AND LEVERETT BALL | Boston Herald (Tribune News Service) | Published: November 2, 2017

This week's temporary block of President Trump's transgender military ban by a federal judge is being chalked up as a major victory for many in a community who say they feel persecuted in the current political climate.

"I'm hopeful that the ban is thrown out permanently, and I'm fairly confident that it will," said Rebecca McDonald, a 60-year-old transgender South Boston resident who served as a senior airman in the Air Force.

Fellow transgender veteran Emma Croft, 59, of Middleboro, told the Herald that when the initial ban came down, she couldn't understand where the administration was coming from. Croft served in the Air Force and rose to the rank of sergeant.

"What is the issue? Just let people live. Just let people be," Croft said.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly barred the Trump administration from moving forward with its order preventing transgender people from serving in the military. Openly transgender service members were accepted thanks to a 2016 policy change under the Obama administration, but Trump reversed the rule.

In July, the president tweeted that the government would "not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military." The next month he sent a memo to the Pentagon to ban transgender individuals from enlisting.

Under Kollar-Kotelly's preliminary injunction, transgender people can enlist starting Jan. 1.
The Trump administration could still appeal the ruling, but for now, the ban is lifted.

The decision did not address the president's action to bar transgender servicemembers from using federal funds to pay for gender reassignment surgeries.

That piece of the issue infuriates transgender veterans who say the costs of medical health care for transgender soldiers is being exaggerated by the administration.

A 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated annual health care costs for active-duty transgender service members at between $4.2 million and $5.6 million.

(c)2017 the Boston Herald
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Silhouettes of servicemembers seen saluting on the backdrop of a multi-colored flag illustrates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month celebrations at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., in June 2014.
SHELBY KAY-FANTOZZI/U.S. AIR FORCE

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