Two LGBTQ rights groups, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), filed a lawsuit on behalf of five transgender service members in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday, suing President Trump over his plan to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, while claiming that the president’s proposed ban violates the Equal Protection component of the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment.
“The categorical exclusion of transgender people from military service lacks a rational basis, is arbitrary, and cannot be justified by sufficient federal interests,” the groups argued in their complaint.
Last month, Trump tweeted that “after consultation with my Generals and military experts,” he had decided the U.S. government would “not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”
“Our military 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. Thank you,” he tweeted.
A day later, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford issued a letter indicating the policy would not be changed until the White House issued further “guidance.”
“There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance,” Dunford reportedly wrote.
Both groups say their clients have already been harmed by Trump’s proposed military ban because they no longer have a reasonable expectation they can continue serving.
“Trump’s directive to exclude transgender people from military service has created a tidal wave of harms that have already been felt throughout our armed services,” NCLR’s legal director Shannon Minter said in a statement.
“Transgender service members have been blindsided by this shift and are scrambling to deal with what it means for their futures and their families. The President’s mistreatment of these dedicated troops will serve only to weaken and demoralize our armed forces.”