WASHINGTON — Five active-duty service members have filed suit against President Donald Trump over his tweeted-out policy banning transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military, calling the policy unconstitutional.
In a trio of tweets, Trump wrote that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” He cited cost and readiness as the reasons.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington by two advocacy groups – The National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) – on behalf of five anonymous active service members.
The service members allege that they came out as transgender based on Obama-era policy, which allowed them to serve openly.
Former Obama Secretary of Defense Ash Carter initiated a year-long transgender policy assessment, which current Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis extended, saying he needed more time to review. Trump’s policy change – tweeted out early one morning by the president – caught his military chiefs off guard. The Department of Defense said that no policy would be changed without a presidential directive. The White House said no directive was immediate.
“Because they identified themselves as transgender in reliance on defendants’ earlier promise, plaintiffs have lost the stability and certainty they had in their careers and benefits, including post-military and retirement benefits that depend on the length of their service,” the suit said. Even though there’s been no official policy change, the plaintiffs argue that Trump’s tweets offered “official guidance” which caused their careers to suffer.
Its unclear how many transgender troops are currently active, but a study by The Rand Group suggests there are anywhere between 1300 and 6600. That study also found that increased healthcare costs would amount to only $2.4 million to $8.4 million.
Read the full lawsuit below: