ACLU sues Trump over 'political' ban on transgender soldiers

by Antonio Miles August 29, 2017, 0:37
ACLU sues Trump over 'political' ban on transgender soldiers

After weeks of speculation, on Friday evening, President Trump issued a memorandum to military leaders directing them to continue the current ban prohibiting those who are already "out" as transgender from being recruited and accepted into the Armed Forces.

The official memo came almost a month after Trump said in a series of tweets that the government "will not accept or allow" transgender people "to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military".

The second lawsuit was filed in the city of Seattle by Lambda Legal, a group of lawyers fighting for gay rights, and OutServe-SLDN, another group advocating for equality in the military.

The Pentagon now permits transgender individuals already serving in the armed forces to do so openly, a policy enacted in June 2016 under the Obama administration. "Men and women who are transgender with the courage and capacity to serve deserve more from their commander-in-chief".

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the ACLU of Maryland and six current members of the armed forces who are transgender: Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone, Senior Airman John Doe, Airman First Class Seven Ero George, Petty Officer First Class Teagan Gilbert, Staff Sergeant Kate Cole, and Technical Sergeant Tommie Parker.

One of the Seattle plaintiffs is 33-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Cathrine Schmid, who has served for more than 12 years and is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of the city. 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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In addition, a group of current and former military professors released a memo Monday morning arguing that the President has left the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security little discretion in addressing the status of current transgender persons.

Poll: Should transgender people be allowed to serve in the USA military?

The transgender ban would stop allowing transgender service members from continuing their service in the military, receiving medically necessary healthcare, and banning men and woman who are transgender from enlisting all together. A Defense Department spokesman echoed that position at a briefing with reporters.

"Like other service members, these transgender individuals are willing to place themselves in harm's way-and potentially pay the ultimate price-in service of our country", the filing states. Two sought to join the armed forces, and a third is already a serving member. "Even if some transgender service members are granted continuation of service despite the ban, they will serve under standards that apply only to them, in a system in which there is a presumption that they are unfit for duty, and with no assurance that their permission to remain will endure", said a statement by five allies of the Palm Center.

Roughly 2,500 active duty personnel are transgender, according to a RAND Corporation study cited past year by Ash Carter, a former defence secretary.

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