Transgender military personnel in limbo over Trump plan

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NEW YORK (AP) – Long term, lawyers and activists battling to ensure that transgender people can serve openly in the U.S. military are convinced they will prevail. Short term, they are braced for anguishing consequences if the Trump administration proceeds with its plan to sharply restrict such service.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote Tuesday, gave the administration the green light to put the policy into effect even as legal challenges continue.

“I’m absolutely optimistic with respect to the long-term prospects,” said Sharon McGowan, legal director of the LGBT rights group Lambda Legal, which is pressing one of the lawsuits. “The question is: How long is the long term?”

McGowan and other activists see parallels between the battle and the 17-year saga involving the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibited gay men and women from serving openly in the armed forces. After prolonged controversy and litigation – as well as the discharge of more than 13,000 military personnel – Congress repealed the Clinton-era policy in 2010, and gay service members were able to serve openly beginning in 2011.

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