Transgender man cautiously hopeful as the date he can join US military nears

News
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Nicolas Talbott, a transgender man, is just days away from his dream: trying to join the military.

“This is a highly emotional time for me. It’s definitely sitting, and hoping and waiting,” he said in an interview Thursday with CNN.

He has good reason to worry.

Last July, President Donald Trump sent a series of tweets announcing that “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” In August, the President followed up with a memo that essentially reversed Obama-era policies.

But the memo was immediately challenged in the courts and so far has been blocked from going into effect — for now. The courts have also declined to put on hold a January 1 deadline that would allow transgender recruits to enlist.

Pentagon issues guidance on admitting transgender service members

As things stand, after January 1, Talbott can start the process of applying to enlist in the military.

But he knows the legal road ahead could be bumpy. So far, the courts have ruled only on a preliminary basis.

“This whole process with the courts has been a roller coaster,” Talbott said. “We are doing well, but we are not out of the woods yet. I’m trying to stay wary, and I’m definitely nervous that we might hit another setback.”

Talbott’s lawyer, Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said, “The clock is ticking, and every second we get closer to January 1, individuals like Nicolas whose lifelong dream is to serve our country are getting closer to realizing that dream.”

Lawyers for the government have argued that any appeals to Trump’s August memorandum are premature, in part because the Department of Defense is still reviewing the President’s order and has issued interim guidance that “reaffirms that for now, no current service member will be involuntarily separated, discharged or denied re-enlistment solely on the basis of a gender dysphoria diagnosis or transgender status.”

A 2016 study by the Rand Corp. estimated the number of transgender individuals in the active component of the US military at 1,320 to 6,630, out of about 1.3 million service members.

As for allowing new recruits, the government lawyers argued that the courts’ decision to allow the January 1 deadline to stand “dramatically alters a decades-long status quo, interferes with an ongoing study led by military experts and threatens military readiness.”

But so far, courts have ruled in favor of the challengers.

A three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit noted in December that transgender people are “already serving openly in the military.”

The court said the government had not shown “that any training or medical demands associated with the accession of transgender troops — all of whom must be medically stable for 18 months before entry (absent a waiver) — are different in kind of degree from the demands associated with the retention of existing troops.”

“In balancing the equities,” the court ruled, “it must be remembered that all plaintiffs seek during this litigation is to serve their nation with honor and dignity, volunteering to face extreme hardships, to endure lengthy deployments and separation from family and friends, and to willingly make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives if necessary to protect the nation, the people of the United States, and the Constitution against all who would attack them.”

A panel of judges on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also refused to delay the January 1 deadline for now. Another challenge is pending in the 9th Circuit Court.

So far, the Department of Justice has not revealed whether it seeks to appeal the rulings. Government lawyers could ask for a large panel of judges to review the decision, or go directly to the Supreme Court.

But time is short, and Talbott’s hopes are high.

He said that on Tuesday he plans to call the military recruiter he has been in touch with to schedule an appointment with the Military Entrance Processing Station. There he will have physical evaluations and take tests, the first steps in what he hopes will be his military career.

He said he is wary that down the road his side might lose in courts, but for now he just wants the January 1 deadline to come and go without further delay.

Trademark and Copyright 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

FOX 2 Newsletters

Sign up for a newsletter from FOX 2 to get updates about news and weather. We offer daily headlines, breaking news, severe weather, and forecast emails.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News