The first legal challenge to United States President Donald Trump’s US military transgender ban has been launched.
The lawsuit has been filed by a group of five current service personnel. This group includes USAF, US Army and US Coast Guard representatives with a combined 60 years’ service and extensive frontline deployment experience behind it. All were born as men but have since transitioned.
Filed in the District of Columbia’s US District Court, the lawsuit makes various contestations. One is that President Trump’s “directive to exclude transgender people from military service discriminates against Plaintiffs based on their sex and transgender status.” That, the service personnel argue, contravenes the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection section.
US Military Transgenders
This more recent of President Trump’s numerous controversies began on 26 July with a series of Tweets. Following consultation with ‘Generals and military experts’, he announced that the US Government ‘will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military.’ The US Armed Forces, he added, ‘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.’
It’s fair to say that pure outrage ranked high among the world’s reactions to this statement. It has not yet been confirmed how the ban will be enforced or what impact it will have on the US military’s existing transgender community.
Just how many transgender personnel serve the US military right now isn’t known for sure. One estimate suggests approximately 4,000: other sources suggest that it’s more than double that.
Transgender Ban Lawsuit
The transgender ban lawsuit was put together by two advocacy organisations: GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights). According to the latter’s Shannon Minter, contrary to Trump’s stance, the US military would actually be a lesser force without its transgender content. "The president's mistreatment of these dedicated troops will serve only to weaken and demoralise our armed forces”, he states in comment quoted by The BBC.
Further lawsuits are in prospect but the groups that would organise them are waiting for the ban to become policy before they follow the first five’s lead.