Five unnamed transgender military servicemembers filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against President Donald Trump [official website] and various officials in his administration on Wednesday, claiming the president’s declaration on Twitter [text, part 2, part 3] that transgender individuals would no longer be accepted or allowed to serve in the military violated the Due Process and Equal Protection components of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution [text]. The five servicemembers, identified as Jane Does 1 through 5, are represented by lawyers from the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) [advocacy websites]. One complainant served in the US Coast Guard, another served in the National Guard, and two others served in the Army [government websites], according to the complaint. The fifth was merely identified as a person whose “livelihood depends on her military service.” The complaint notes that Trump’s “proposed policy” to ban transgender individuals from serving was met by widespread criticism, including “fifty-six former generals and admirals [who] issued a public statement denouncing the new policy.” The complaint also contends that the White House “outlined a plan to end the active service of transgender servicemembers to be transmitted to the Department of Defense for implementation.”
These servicemembers, like many others, have built their lives around their military service. On July 26, 2017, President Trump announced in a series of tweets that he would reverse the Department of Defense’s policy on transgender servicemembers, stating that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” The President’s announcement, which upon information and belief was made without consulting the Joint Chiefs of Staff, upset the reasonable expectations of Plaintiffs and thousands of other transgender servicemembers and the men and women with whom they serve and fight. Upon information and belief, the White House turned that decision into official guidance, approved by the White House counsel’s office, to be communicated to the Department of Defense.
The plaintiffs seek a permanent injunction against the implementation of the proposed ban, among other forms of relief. The previous ban against transgender individuals serving in the US military was lifted [JURIST report] last July.
The transgender community has faced significant legal challenges in recent years. In January Democrats in the California State Senate introduced a bill [JURIST report] that would make California the first state to include three gender options on state identification documents: male, female and non-binary. In June of last year a judge from Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon ruled [JURIST report] that an individual’s gender could be legally changed from female to non-binary. In the same month a US magistrate judge issued [JURIST report] an order requiring California prions to provide transgender inmates who identify as female access to female-oriented items to which inmates have access in women’s correctional facilities. Last January a Georgia appeals court overturned [JURIST report] the denial of transgender name changes.