Federal Court Hears Arguments in ACLU Challenge to Trump’s Ban on Military Service by Transgender People
The American Civil Liberties Union was in federal court today for a hearing in its lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s ban on military service by transgender individuals.
The court heard arguments on the ACLU’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would immediately halt all aspects of the ban.
“Today was another step on the road to ensuring transgender service members are given the equal treatment they deserve,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT Project. “We’re asking the court to reinforce what we already know to be true, which is that President Trump’s shameful, impulsive decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military is blatantly unconstitutional.”
The motion for preliminary injunction was filed on behalf of the ACLU of Maryland and six current members of the armed forces who are transgender: Petty Officer 1st Class Brock Stone, Senior Airman John Doe, Airman 1st Class Seven Ero George, Petty Officer 1st Class Teagan Gilbert, Staff Sgt. Kate Cole, and Technical Sgt. Tommie Parker.
At the hearing, the ACLU argued that a preliminary injunction is needed to prevent irreparable harm to transgender service members and potential service members while the case is resolved in the courts. The ACLU argues that the ban violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection and substantive due process as well as the statutory right to medical care that all service members enjoy.
“Trans service members like me have earned the privilege of continuing to serve our country so long as we continue to be fit for duty,” said plaintiff Brock Stone. “We are equal to the task, and it is our right to have an equal chance to take that task on.”
At the culmination of a thorough process, the Department of Defense concluded in 2016 that there was no basis for the military to exclude transgender individuals from openly serving their country, subject to the same fitness requirements as other service members. This review process carefully considered and rejected the notion that medical costs, military readiness, or other factors presented any reason to discriminate against transgender individuals, many of whom had already been serving with honor in silence for years.
The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Maryland, and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP.