ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Trump's Transgender Service Member Ban
Maryland — The American Civil Liberties Union and Covington & Burling LLP today filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration challenging the president’s directive banning transgender service members from continuing to serve in the military or receiving medically necessary health care, and banning men and women who are transgender from enlisting.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the ACLU of Maryland and six current members of the armed forces who are transgender: Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone, Senior Airman John Doe, Airman First Class Seven Ero George, Petty Officer First Class Teagan Gilbert, Staff Sergeant Kate Cole, and Technical Sergeant Tommie Parker.
In the lawsuit, the ACLU argues that the ban violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and substantive due process by singling out transgender individuals for unequal and discriminatory treatment. The lawsuit argues that the ban discriminates based on sex and transgender status and that the ban is based on uninformed speculation, myths and stereotypes, moral disapproval, and a bare desire to harm this already vulnerable group.
“Each and every claim made by President Trump to justify this ban can be easily debunked by the conclusions drawn from the Department of Defense’s own review process. 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,” said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. “Men and women who are transgender with the courage and capacity to serve deserve more from their commander-in-chief.”
At the culmination of a thorough process, the Department of Defense concluded in 2016 that there was no basis for the military to exclude transgender individuals from openly serving their country, subject to the same fitness requirements as other service members. This review process carefully considered and rejected the notion that medical costs, military readiness, or other factors presented any reason to discriminate against transgender service members, many of whom had already been serving with honor in silence for years.
For example, Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone has served in the U.S. Navy for 9years, including a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. He has received extensive and costly training and is skilled in his field. He has devoted and risked his life for the United States and is seeking nothing more than the ability to continue to do so on the same terms as his fellow officers.
The other individual plaintiffs are:
- Staff Sergeant Cole has served in the U.S. Army for almost 10 years, including a one-year deployment to Afghanistan where she served as a team leader and designated marksman.
- Senior Airman Doe has served for approximately six years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, where he was awarded “Airman of the Year” for his flight and hopes to serve in the armed forces for his entire career.
- Airman First Class George is a member of the Air National Guard. He is training as a nurse and intends to pursue a commission in the U.S. Army.
- Petty Officer First Class Gilbert has served in the U.S. Navy for 13 years, including a one-year deployment to Afghanistan, and currently serves as an Information Technology specialist.
- Technical Sergeant Parker served in the Marine Corps for four years and has served in the Air National Guard for 16 years, currently as a fuel technician.
The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Maryland, and Covington & Burling LLP.
The filing can be found here.