ACLU sues Trump over transgender military ban

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Trump's move halted years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including a 2016 order by Obama created to let transgender people serve without fear of discharge.

In announcing the ban in a series of tweets in July, Trump argued that allowing transgender military service members would involve "tremendous medical costs and disruption" without citing any evidence for the claim. A second lawsuit was filed in Monday in Seattle federal court by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN.

"This ban not only wrongfully prevents patriotic, talented Americans from serving, it also compromises the safety and security of our country", Lambda Legal senior attorney Peter Renn said in a statement, quoted the CNN.

The ACLU's complaint purports to address each of Trump's stated concerns, using government-backed studies, an analysis of transgender-related costs and the apparent readiness of several USA allies that allow transgender soldiers to serve openly.

The second lawsuit, filed in federal court in Maryland by the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of the ACLU of Maryland and five now serving transgender service members, argues that the ban denies transgender people equal protection under the law and discriminates based on both sex and transgender status.

Trump ordered the military to stop paying for transition-related medical expenses, unless the service members' health was in jeopardy, and the ACLU asked the judge to reverse that order immediately. The petitioner includes Staff Sgt. Catherine Schmid, a 33-year-old woman, who is now serving in Joint Base Lewis-McChord who has applied to become an Army warrant officer. The enlistment ban also bars transgender members of the military now serving openly, such as Staff Sergeant Schmid, from obtaining appointments as officers.

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Plaintiffs in both suits allege that Trump's policy directive violated their right to equal protection and due process. Trump has tasked Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis with coming up with a plan by February 2018 for addressing already enlisted transgender individuals. The Rand Corporation study commissioned by the Defense Department showed that there are an estimated 1,320-to 6,630-transgender troops serving across all branches of the military.

Between 4,000 and 10,000 U.S. active-duty and reserve service members are believed to be transgender.

The ACLU cites a 2014 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law that estimates 8,800 active members of the US military are transgender. She is honored to serve her country, and she deserves to continue!

The service members in the earlier case, who are suing anonymously, say they disclosed their gender orientation relying on the existing policy that permits them to serve openly. "It deprives our armed forces of those wanting to serve at a time when the military is already facing threats on multiple fronts".

About 8,800 transgender men and women are now active members of the United States armed forces, according to the ACLU suit.

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