Lawsuit Filed in Behalf of Transgender Service Members

Two organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court August 9, challenging President Trump’s declaration that transgender persons would no longer be allowed to serve in the armed forces.

The two groups – GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), brought the court action forward in behalf of five transgender service members. If enacted, the ban would violate the service members’ constitutional rights to equal protection and due process, the groups contend. The five service members say they came forward to commanders and colleagues and revealed their transgender status only after President Obama declared that they would no longer face discharge. Reversing that policy now, after “thousands” of transgender service members “followed protocol and informed their chain of command,” would be unfair, they contend.

If they are kicked out, the five – and other transgender service members – could lose more than their jobs, the lawsuit contends. Their military retirement pay and veterans’ benefits also could be in jeopardy.

The 48-page court document pointed out that Trump made the announcement without first consulting anyone in leadership positions in the Pentagon or on Capitol Hill.

“Transgender service members have been blindsided by this shift and are scrambling to deal with what it means for their futures and their families,” said Shannon Minter of NCLR.

Ousting them from military service “will serve only to weaken and demoralize our armed forces,” Minter said.
Trump announced his decision on July 26 via Twitter to rescind the right of transgender persons to serve in the military.

The five plaintiffs serve in the Air Force, Coast Guard and Army. Their experience ranges from three to more than 20 years, and includes tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This unjustifiable reversal of policy is devastating to these soldiers [sic] and harmful to our country,” said Jennifer Levi of GLAD.
The case is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.