Society

Military Service Members Sue Trump Over Transgender Ban

| by Robert Fowler
President Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump

Five transgender active-duty service members have mounted a lawsuit against President Donald Trump for his statement that his administration would bar transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. The service members are represented by two LGBTQ rights group, who assert that Trump's ban violated the plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment rights.

On Aug. 9, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders jointly filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The plaintiffs' names have not been disclosed. They are reportedly comprised of three Army soldiers, an Air Force member and a Coast Guard member, the Washington Post reports.

The lawsuit argues that Trump's transgender ban had violated the plaintiffs' due process and Equal Protection rights.

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"The directive to reinstate a ban on open service by transgender people violates both the Equal Protection component of the Fifth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution," the lawsuit states.

On July 26, Trump took to social media to announce that transgender Americans would be barred from military service.

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump tweeted out.

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"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," the president added.

The announcement came as a surprise to the Pentagon. On July 27, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley disclosed that he had first learned about the ban from Trump's tweets, CNN reports.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced that the ban would not be implemented until the Defense Department received thorough guidance from the White House.

"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 wrote.

While the ban has yet to go into effect, the lawsuit asserted that the White House "turned [Trump's] decision into official guidance, approved by the White House counsel's office, to be communicated to the Department of Defense."

"Transgender service members have been blindsided by this shift and are scrambling to deal with what it means for their future and their families," NCLR legal director Shannon Minter said in a statement, according to The Hill.

"The President's mistreatment of these dedicated troops will serve only to weaken and demoralize our armed forces," Minter added.

In 2016, a study conducted by the Rand Corporation estimated that there were up to 11,000 transgender service members in the military. The study concluded that their medical costs would reach a maximum of $8.4 million per year. In June 2016, the report prompted the Obama administration to lift a longstanding ban on transgender troops serving openly.

On Aug. 9, a study conducted by The Palm Center estimated that the number of transgender troops in the military had grown to 12,800 service members and that it would cost $960 million to replace them. Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin concluded that it would be more expensive to ban transgender troops than to accommodate their medical needs.

"American taxpayers should ask the president, who is proud of his business savvy, why he's spending a dollar to buy a dime," Belkin said.

Sources: CNNThe Hill, Washington Post / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr / Embedded Images: Benjamin Lewis/Wikimedia Commons, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr

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