Five active duty transgender service members are challenging President Trump’s directive to ban trans people from serving in the US military.
The plaintiffs—identified only as Jane Does—are being represented by GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and the National Centre for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) who have called the ban “baseless and discriminatory”.
“President Trump is needlessly attacking courageous transgender service members who put their lives on the line for our country,” the legal organisation’s statement reads.
The five service members came out to their commanding officers last year after the Defence Department announced that transgender people could openly serve in the military.
“I was very relieved and came out as transgender to my commanding officers, who were supportive,” says one plaintiff.
“My experience has been positive and I am prouder than ever to continue to serve.
“I am married and have three children, and the military has been my life. But now, I’m worried about my family’s future.”
NCLR says Trump’s proposed ban has already devastated trans service members who are trying to comprehend what the move would mean for their future including, “the loss of job security, retirement benefits, healthcare, and other serious harms”.
“Trump’s directive to exclude transgender people from military service has created a tidal wave of harms that have already been felt throughout our armed services,” said Shannon Minter, a transgender legal expert and NCLR Legal Director.
The plaintiffs' years of service range from three years to two decades—including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The group of five currently serve across the Air Force, Coast Guard and the Army.
“The Commander in Chief has said that transgender service members—people who have served our nation with honour and distinction — are no longer welcome to serve,” said Jennifer Levi, Director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project.
“This unjustifiable reversal of policy is devastating to these soldiers and harmful to our country. These plaintiffs put their lives on the line every day for all of us. We can’t afford to lose a single one of them.”
The lawsuit is seeking declaratory and permanent injunctive relief against the implementation of the ban on the grounds of equal protection and due process guaranteed by the US Constitution.
It also claims that following the June 2016 directive that encouraged transgender troops to come out to their commanding officers, Trump cannot “pull the rug from under their feet”.
“The law prohibits such unfair conduct,” the statement reads.