The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal filed separate lawsuits against President Donald Trump and members of his administration Monday over his plan to ban transgender individuals from joining the military.
Mr. Trump directed the Pentagon last Friday to implement the ban, one month after he announced the proposal on Twitter.
Who filed the lawsuits? The ACLU suit was filed in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland, on behalf of six transgender individuals who currently serve in the military. The complaint by Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ advocacy group, was filed in federal court in Seattle, Washington on behalf of an Army veteran and two transgender individuals seeking to join the military. Two other advocacy groups, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gender Justice League, signed onto the Seattle suit.
What the ban says: Trump’s memo directed the Department of Defense to stop recruiting transgender soldiers and also cut off funding for sex reassignment surgeries by Jan. 1, 2018. Defense Sec. James Mattis must submit a plan for what to do about the thousands of transgender individuals currently serving in the military by Feb. 21.
What the lawsuits say: The lawsuits argue that the ban is unconstitutional because it violates equal treatment protections under the law, setting up what could be a major legal battle over the controversial proposal. Two other groups filed a similar suit last week, challenging Trump’s claims that transgender individuals are a disruptive force in the military. In a series of tweets first proposing the ban last month, Trump claimed that allowing transgender individuals to continue serving in the military would cause “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
What the ACLU says: “Allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly and providing them with necessary health care does nothing to harm military readiness or unit cohesion,” Josh Block, an ACLU senior staff attorney, said in a statement.
What Lambda Legal says: “President Trump is denying brave men and women the opportunity to serve our country without any legitimate justification whatsoever,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said in a statement.
Why it matters: There are roughly 8,800 transgender individuals currently serving in the military, according to the ACLU. Trump’s ban would reverse an Obama administration policy put in place last year that allows transgender individuals to serve openly in the military. Until then, thousands of transgender members of the military are in limbo. A Rand Corporation study released last year concluded that transgender troops would have a “minimal impact” on military readiness, study author Agnes Gereben Schaefer told the NewsHour.