U.S./World: Transgender military lawsuits ensue
Updated: October 20, 2017 at 2:01 pm
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — So far four court cases have been filed, and more could be coming, against the Trump administration’s transgender military ban.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) spoke out against the Department of Justice’s response in Doe v. Trump which they filed on behalf of five transgender servicemembers. The organizations said that the stance is already causing servicemembers and the country undue harm. They filed a motion in the case on Aug. 31 adding two more plaintiffs.
And, the organizations shared that more than 100 members of Congress wrote to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asking him to provide any “discussions or correspondence between the White House and the Pentagon” that purportedly informed Donald Trump’s decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military.
NCLR and GLAD, who have been at the center of the legal fight against the ban, commended the members’ action. “The military studied this issue for nearly a year and concluded that transgender service members serving openly benefits the military and promotes military readiness. The ban has been met with opposition and criticism from the highest-ranking military officers as well as countless service members, veterans, and bipartisan members of Congress.”
NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter and GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi issued the following statement in response: “The president’s abrupt decision to override the military’s carefully considered policy on transgender service members showed a shocking disregard not only for the thousands of currently serving transgender troops, including those deployed overseas, but also for the experience and expertise of military leaders. … Every day this ban is allowed to stay in place, our national security is undermined and transgender service members who have proved their fitness to serve are being unfairly targeted and demeaned.”
U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Peace told InStyle in an interview, “There is no correlation between being transgender and your performance in the military,” and “The idea that I could lose a job I’m passionate about because of something that has no impact on my ability to serve is really difficult to think about.” She added, “I’ve been thinking about it every day since the announcement. This is my life. This is my career. Nothing else makes sense for me. I just can’t imagine not putting on a uniform.”
Equality California picked up the mantle and filed Stockman v. Trump, along with NCLR and GLAD, representing seven plaintiffs. The suit claims the ban “unlawfully discriminates against transgender people on the basis of their gender identity; impinges upon transgender people’s fundamental rights by penalizing and stigmatizing them for expressing a fundamental aspect of their personal identity; and unfairly punishes transgender people who came out in the military in reliance on the government’s assurances that they could serve openly.”
“The government’s response reads like pure fiction,” Levi said. “It states a fantasy that the president’s announcement of a ban on military service for transgender people has changed nothing. That’s simply not true.”
Minter added, “The president’s attack on transgender service members who have dedicated their lives to serving our country is unconscionable. Rather than even attempting to defend it, the DOJ is asking the court to turn a blind eye to the devastation the president has caused in the lives of real people and real families.”
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About the author: Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 704-531-9988, x205.