5 Transgender Service Members Sue Trump Over His Military Ban
On Wednesday, five active duty transgender service members filed a lawsuit against Trump's military ban, which he announced on Twitter in late July. The service members have not been named, but they argued that Trump's proposed ban on transgender people serving in the military is unconstitutional.
The Defense Department's current policy is to permit transgender individuals to openly serve in the military, but Trump's proposed policy could change that if it is put into place. According to CNN, the plaintiffs filing the lawsuit are concerned that the military ban — which has not yet been implemented — could prevent them from continuing their service or renewing their contracts.
Trump announced the ban in a series of three tweets, but he did so without consulting the Pentagon. As a result, Marine General Joseph Dunford — who, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the U.S.' top military officer — informed the military that such a ban would be not be implemented without further guidance from the White House.
However, according to the lawsuit — which was filed by two LGBTQ rights groups on behalf of five trans individuals who are currently serving — the White House has allegedly used Trump's tweets as "official guidance" to be conveyed to the Defense Department.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) are the two organizations filing the lawsuit, and GLAD explained on its website that Trump's proposed ban could threaten transgender service members in multiple ways:
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Meanwhile, NCLR legal director Shannon Minter told Slate that Trump's attempt to reverse the Obama-era policy on permitting transgender individuals to serve had "blindsided" those who are already serving.
“Trump’s attempts to reinstate a ban have blindsided thousands of transgender service members who are now scrambling to determine what this means for their families and their futures,” Minter told Slate. “We are appalled by the president’s callous mistreatment of transgender soldiers, and we want to send a message loud and clear that we will aggressively challenge any attempt to harm them.”
According to Reuters, the active duty service members who are plaintiffs in this lawsuit include three U.S. Army soldiers, one U.S. Air Force airman and one member of the U.S. Coast Guard. Some of them are also veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The defendants listed in the lawsuit include Trump, Dunford, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and other military leaders. Reuters reported that the ACLU is also preparing its own lawsuit.