The ACLU's Trans Ban Lawsuit Has Officially Been Filed
The court challenges to the Trump administration continue: As of Monday morning, the ACLU is suing Trump over his transgender military ban. The organization announced their plan via Twitter Monday morning, saying that they were "taking @realDonaldTrump to court to challenge the unconstitutional transgender military ban."
After Trump announced the ban — also via Twitter — last month, the ACLU released a statement enumerating their position on the ban and saying that "there is no basis for turning trans people away from our military and the ACLU is examining all of our options on how to fight this." They developed their strategy over the next month, and the tweet announcement this morning would suggest that they've decided on what they regard as the best course of action.
While the ACLU's suit against Trump's ban on transgender service members is certainly the most prominent case of its kind so far, it's not actually the first one. Five transgender members of the armed forces are already suing the administration with the help of two LGBTQ advocacy organizations, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.
Given their very successful history of pushing for equal rights through the justice system, though, the ACLU's case is likely to draw quite a bit more attention.
The statement released by the ACLU Monday specifies that the case will be filed on behalf of the Maryland chapter and six transgender members of the armed forces, and presents the substance of their argument.
The ACLU argues that the ban violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and substantive due process by singling out transgender individuals for unequal and discriminatory treatment. The lawsuit argues that the ban discriminates based on sex and transgender status and that the ban is based on uninformed speculation, myths and stereotypes, moral disapproval, and a bare desire to harm this already vulnerable group.
The statement also references the review process that the Department of Defense carried out during the Obama administration, when they decided that transgender service members could serve openly. The ACLU contends:
This review process carefully considered and rejected the notion that medical costs, military readiness, or other factors presented any reason to discriminate against transgender service members, many of whom had already been serving with honor in silence for years.
Trump ostensibly based his decision to institute the ban on the "tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," but the ACLU claims in their statement that "each and every claim made by President Trump to justify this ban can be easily debunked by the conclusions drawn from the Department of Defense's own review process."
Between the first hearing of the case and the likely appeals that would come after any initial decision, things are likely to proceed slowly. However, for now transgender service members and their allies can at least take heart in the fact that the ACLU is not letting this ban go through without a fight.