WASHINGTON — Five service members have filed a lawsuit against President Trump in an effort to challenge his reinstatement of the government’s ban on openly-transgendered persons serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
“Plaintiffs have undergone medical treatment for the purpose of gender transition,” the complaint, filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, outlines. “Plaintiffs have served honorably and successfully in the military since coming out as transgender, and their transgender status has not had any detrimental effect on their ability to serve or to fulfill their duties.”
“Because they identified themselves as transgender in reliance on [the government’s] earlier promise [of lifting the ban], Plaintiffs have lost the stability and certainty they had in their careers and benefits, including post-military and retirement benefits that depend on the length of their service,” it states.
The lawsuit asserts that Trump’s ban violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment. It seeks a court injunction against the prohibition and a declaratory judgment that the exclusion is unconstitutional.
“Execution of the president’s directive will result in an end to service by openly transgender service members and has already resulted in immediate, concrete injury to Plaintiffs by unsettling and destabilizing Plaintiffs’ reasonable expectation of continued service,” the complaint contends.
In addition to Trump, the U.S. Army, Air Force and Coast Guard are also included as defendants in the legal challenge, as well as Defense Secretary James Mattis.
As previously reported, Trump announced his decision on Twitter last month, advising that the issue is a distraction and would place a burden on the finances of the Armed Forces.
Defense Secretary James Mattis had just issued a statement on June 30, outlining that the previous administration’s policy implementation deadline of July 1 would be pushed back six months to give additional time to determine whether or not the Obama-era policy would negatively affect military readiness. The policy included federal payment of the gender transition treatments and procedures of transgender service members.
“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” Trump tweeted. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgenders in the military would entail. Thank you.”
While a number of Christian and family values groups had hoped that the Department of Defense would overturn the Obama-era policy, those close to Trump state that it was not their views that influenced his decision, but rather his talks with military generals.
“Americans need to know the extreme implications of this policy,” Chaplain Col. (Ret.) Ron Crews of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty said last year following then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s announcement that the Pentagon would lift the longstanding ban. “Do we want our sons and daughters to be forced to share showers and sleeping spaces in a ‘mixed genitalia’ environment with no recourse for objections of conscience?”
“Spending billions of dollars on transgender surgeries and treatment plans, when the military has other priorities that would actually ensure its effectiveness in war, is irresponsible,” Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, who now works with Family Research Council, also remarked last month. “Secretary Mattis and Congress need to ensure the priorities of the U.S. armed forces remain those that the secretary has outlined: mission readiness, command proficiency, and combat effectiveness. These should be the new priorities, not the last administration’s social engineering projects that ignore military readiness.”