Two additional lawsuits challenge Trump's transgender military ban

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29 August, 2017

Trump's directive calls for a new policy to ban trans people from enlisting and cut off healthcare coverage for transition-related surgery, a bugbear for many congressional conservatives, within six months.

The lawsuit was filed just days after Trump formally ordered the Pentagon to ban the recruitment of openly transgender people and to determine whether those already serving should be allowed to remain.

Trump also gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis six months to draft a policy on trans people now serving. The ACLU also contends 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".

Trump's policy, which goes into effect January 1, reverses one from the Obama administration in 2016 that allowed transgender individuals to serve openly without fear of being discharged.

For the ban to survive, the Trump administration must show that allowing transgender people to serve affects "our readiness, ability to fight, and lethality", said Gregory Greiner, a Washington D.C. lawyer who represents service members.

Lambda Legal and OUTServe-SLDN joined forces to file "on behalf of two individuals who seek to join the military (Ryan Karnoski of Seattle and Drew Layne of Corpus Christi), one current service member who seeks appointment as an officer (Army Staff Sgt. Cathrine Schmid), the Human Rights Campaign and Gender Justice League, which is headquartered in Seattle".

They argue the policy is "dripping with animus", and violates their right to equal protection and due process under the Fifth Amendment and right to free speech under the First Amendment.

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In a statement on Monday, the White House said: "We do not comment on active or pending litigation". The petitioner includes Staff Sgt. Catherine Schmid, a 33-year-old woman, who is now serving in Joint Base Lewis-McChord who has applied to become an Army warrant officer. These advocates also argue that the federal and state government must support people who say they are "transgender" by requiring other people to treat them as members of the opposite sex and to refer to them with opposite-sex pronouns.

For example, Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone has served in the U.S. Navy for 9years, including a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. A Defense Department spokesman echoed that position at a briefing with reporters.

Because of the above statutory entitlement [from Congress] to all medically necessary care, President Trump does not have authority to deny medical care to anyone serving in uniform, including transgender service members.

Two separate lawsuits have been filed against the Trump administration for trying to institute an across-the-board ban prohibiting transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

RAND estimated the number of transgender individuals now serving in the military to be between 1,320 and 6,630, out of 1.3 million total service members.

Roughly 2,500 active duty personnel are transgender, according to a RAND Corporation study cited previous year by Ash Carter, a former defence secretary.


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