Trans Service Members Have Filed Their Own Lawsuit Against The Military Ban

by Cate Carrejo
John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

More parties have stepped forward to challenge Donald Trump's proposed ban on transgender military members — trans service members filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday, according to a new report from CNN. The suit is in addition to the ACLU's legal challenge against the ban, and depending on preliminary hearings for the lawsuits, Trump's legal team could spend months tied up in court, similar to the legal proceedings surrounding his immigration ban earlier this year.

LGBTQ+ legal foundation Lambda Legal is working on behalf of two transgender individuals who are seeking to join the military and one currently enlisted service member who is trying to become an officer. 33-year-old Cathrine Schmid is one of the plaintiffs in the case, and she told Lambda Legal that her ability to serve authentically has bolstered her and others' experience in the military.

"I love serving my country, which I’ve been doing for more than 12 years," said Schmid in a statement for Lambda Legal. "Since the ban on open service by transgender men and women was lifted, I have been able to live and serve as my authentic self, which has allowed me to form stronger bonds with my fellow service members.”

Trump first announced the ban on Twitter in late July, but it was unclear for several weeks whether there was any real administrative force behind the statement. At the time, Department of Defense officials denied that they had received any guidance from the White House on changing policy.

"There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance," Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the highest ranking member of the U.S. military), wrote in a letter to military commanders earlier this month,

"In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” Dunford wrote. “As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions."

However, reports from last week made clear that the administration was moving forward with the ban, inviting consternation and legal challenges from LGBTQ+ individuals and allies across the country.

As with the immigration ban, the constitutionality of the transgender service ban was quickly challenged, and it could take a lengthy court determine the legality of the new guidance. While the ban seems to clearly violate civil rights protections for marginalized people, case law has been slow to include LGBTQ+ individuals in those protections. Defining the new laws could take months, but the administration doesn't seem likely to back down from this perplexing political move.