Transgender service members filed suit in federal courts on Monday challenging President Donald Trump’s memorandum directing the secretary of defense to bar transgender Americans from military service.
The lawsuits are the first filed in federal courts since the President’s guidance to the Pentagon was issued on Friday. The President first announced his policy on Twitter on July 26 declaring that men and women who are transgender would no longer be allowed to continue serving in the military in “any capacity.”
The decision reversed a policy initially approved by the Defense Department under former President Barack Obama, which was still under final review that would allow transgender individuals to openly serve in the military. In Friday’s memorandum, Trump directed the departments of Defense and Homeland Security “to determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving” and to halt the use of resources to fund “sex-reassignment surgical procedures.”
“This ban not only wrongfully prevents patriotic, talented Americans from serving, it also compromises the safety and security of our country,” Lambda Legal senior attorney Peter Renn said in a statement. “Thousands of current service members are transgender, and many have been serving openly, courageously and successfully in the US military for more than a year — not to mention the previous decades when many were forced to serve in silence,” he said.
Renn’s lawsuit is filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. The plaintiffs include Staff Sgt. Catherine Schmid, a 33-year-old woman currently serving in Joint Base Lewis-McChord who has applied to become an Army warrant officer. In court papers, lawyers for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund argued that the President’s “unilateral decision” was made “without any meaningful deliberative process and was directly contrary to the considered judgment of the military.”
The ACLU has filed a separate suit in the United Stated District Court for the District of Maryland by the ACLU on behalf of transgender service members, including Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone and others.