Lambda Legal Sues Donald Trump Over Transgender Military Ban

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The lawsuit seeks a court ruling finding the trans military ban violates the U.S. Constitution and an injunction ensuring transgender people can serve in the armed forces; not be denied promotion or face adverse treatment exclusively due to their gender identity; and have access to transition-related health care.

Meanwhile, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN's lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ryan Karnoski and Drew Layne, who identify as trans and are hoping to enlist, as well as Cathrine Schmid, a 12-year U.S. Army member is seeking an appointment as an officer, as well as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Gender Justice League.

They say the ban is a discriminatory violation of their constitutional rights to equal treatment and due process.

The presidential memorandum signed August 25 officially requested the Pentagon to develop an implementation plan for the ban by February 21, 2018, to be put in place on March 23, 2018.

The President signed a memorandum that would reverse an Obama-era decision to allow transgender individuals to openly serve in the United States military.

Transgender servicemembers were granted the right to serve openly in June 2016, under President Barack Obama's administration.

Both lawsuits highlight the records of transgender service members. Earlier today, two other national advocacy groups filed similar suits: see Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN's complaint here, and the complaint filed half an hour later by the ACLU here.

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Trump's move halted years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including a 2016 order by Obama created to let transgender people serve without fear of discharge. Two sought to join the armed forces, and a third is already a serving member.

"It is hard to estimate the number of transgender personnel in the military due to current policies and a lack of empirical data", the study reads.

Slamming the move, Democratic U.S. Rep. Ami Bera said, "If you wear an American military uniform, you deserve the respect and support of the commander-in-chief".

The new directive bars enlistment by transgender individuals, prohibits coverage for certain critical medical procedures, and bans those now in the military from serving, with the Secretary of Defense given discretion to determine how to carry out that ban.

Stone, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, has served in the U.S. Navy for nine years, including a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has said the Department of Defense should 'measure each policy decision against one critical standard: "will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force?' Based on that standard, there is no rational basis to prevent transgender Americans from serving".

"This is an appalling attack on our service members; it is about bigotry rather than military readiness, reason or science", Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in response to the president's tweets. (Estimates of the number of current transgender service members vary dramatically: from 1,320 to 6,630, to closer to 15,500.) As the New York Times reported on Friday, "a$3 lthough pressed repeatedly by reporters, [a] senior official declined to comment on the possibility that many or even all transgender individuals could continue to serve if [Secretary] Mattis declined to remove them".


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