09:07, August 11 62 0 abajournal.com

2017-08-11 09:07:05
5 transgender military members sue President Trump over planned ban

Five active-duty transgender service members have pre-emptively sued President Donald Trump over his plans to ban them from the military, the Washington Post reports.

The suit (PDF), filed in federal district court in Washington D.C., says the ban would violate the Equal Protection and the Due Process clauses of the 5th Amendment. The plaintiffs are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders.

Though no policy has been issued, President Trump announced in a series of tweets July 26 that the federal government “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”

The Obama administration ended the ban on transgender service members in 2016, and many have come out and serve openly. The Pentagon commissioned a Rand Corp. study last year that estimates as many as 11,000 transgender military personnel are on active duty and in the reserves.

President Trump tweeted that “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” McClatchy news reports.

But a study commissioned by the Defense Department, done preparation for the policy change by the Obama administration, found that having openly transgender people in the military would have “minimal impact” on military readiness and healthcare costs.

In addition to the constitutional arguments, the plaintiffs say a ban would renege on promises the government made to service members.

“These service members came out, relying on the [Pentagon’s] policy and now they have just been blindsided,” Shannon Minter, who is transgender and is the executive director of the NCLR, told McClatchy. “They are facing immediate choices about training, re-enlistment, healthcare and their families. How are they supposed to make these choices given the drastic uncertainties now hanging over their heads?”

The plaintiffs are a Coast Guard member; an Air Force member nearing 20 years of service, including two tours in Iraq; and three Army soldiers.

A letter signed by 56 retired generals and admirals last week criticized the ban, saying it “would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops.”