Several transgender Americans, hoping to serve in the military, are suing President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
A memorandum put out by President Trump on August 25, 2017, affects the current law stopping transgender individuals from joining the military; while allowing those currently in the military to continue receiving sex reassignment treatment.
The memorandum reverses the current policy regarding transgender Americans serving openly in the military and directs the Secretary of Defense and Security of Homeland Security to implement two directives: continuing to prevent transgender individuals from joining and to stop military members from seeking medical care from DoD and DHS for sex reassignment.
Trump’s memorandum will take effect in March of 2018.
In response to the memo, OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the military from preventing transgender individuals from joining the military.
“The military has never—once it’s made a decision on personnel policy, in particular, it has never gone back and changed those policies,” said Matt Thorn, executive director at OutServe-SDLN, on the new memorandum.
“When we desegregated the force, when we added women in combat, we have never gone back and re-put in those bans. So this is completely unprecedented,” he added.
Mattis released a statement on August 29, 2017, stating that the Department of Defense will put together a new study and implementation plan “which will contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law.”
A previous study by the Pentagon that looked at lifting the ban on openly serving transgender military members found there were no issues to deployability or readiness of the force.
“We’ve done this review before, they’re going to find the same information,” said Thorn.
Read the RAND study that assessed transgender personnel serving openly in the military.
Their lawsuit is asking for an injunction against the guidance and Thorn is hoping that “the court system sees this for what it is. That it’s a discriminatory guidance and directive from the president of the United States.”
“And then I hope that the court sees our trans service members for who they are… they’re bright, capable individuals who meet the standards that are set forth by the military, who want to serve,” he said.
On Aug. 31, two additional organizations, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed their own lawsuit against Trump and other DOD and DHS officials in federal court on behalf of currently serving military personnel who had come forward to their commanders about being transgender and fear being kicked out of their service branch with the new guidance.