The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed a response today in the Equality California case Stockman v. Trump challenging Trump’s transgender military ban in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Today’s court filing is the first in Stockman since Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling last week in NCLR and GLAD’s other case Doe v. Trump, finding Trump’s ban to be unconstitutional and issuing a nationwide injunction against the ban.
“California has the highest number of service members and LGBT people of any state in the country. Trump’s ban is a baseless, malicious attack on our own,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “We’re in this fight, and we’ll keep fighting until this ban poses zero threat to our community and our military.”
“Last week, we secured a nationwide injunction that halts Trump’s ban,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “Right now, every transgender service member is protected, and qualified transgender Americans who wish to enlist can do so as of January 1, 2018. But we know this battle is not over—every federal court that declares this ban unconstitutional moves us closer to a permanent end to this nightmare for our dedicated and courageous service members.”
“Trump’s not playing with toy soldiers – these are real people whose lives are at stake. Thousands of transgender Americans are currently serving in our armed forces, and these highly trained, dedicated, and courageous service members have been experiencing real harms since Trump’s impulsive Twitter announcement, ” said GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi. “Last week’s clear and powerful ruling from Judge Kollar-Kotelly confirmed what we already know: Trump’s ban contradicts military leaders and expert research, and is based on nothing more than bias against the transgender community. We won’t stop fighting until we are assured every qualified transgender American who wishes to serve our country can do so on equal terms with all other service members.”
Today’s filing is strengthened by reasoning included in Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s recent ruling, and on these key arguments:
In Stockman, the Trump administration makes the same arguments that Judge Kollar-Kotelly found to “wither under scrutiny” and relies on Interim Guidance characterized by Judge Kollar-Kotelly as a “red herring.”
- Under Trump’s ban, Stockman plaintiffs suffer actual, imminent, concrete harms:
- Plaintiffs are targeted for forced separation solely because they are transgender and will suffer the loss of tenure, career prospects, and medical care,
- Plaintiffs are able and ready to accede into service but are categorically excluded simply because they are transgender Americans, and
- Plaintiffs suffer from the injustice of a discriminatory classification that demeans their abilities and fitness to serve as transgender people.
In addition to Equality California, plaintiffs in Stockman v. Trump, filed September 5, 2017, include three unnamed and four named plaintiffs. The named plaintiffs include Nicolas Talbott from Lisbon, Ohio, a 23-year old who wants to enlist but is unable to do so because of the ban, and Aiden Stockman from Yucca Valley, California, a 20-year old who wants to join the Air Force and took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test in high school. Aiden currently works at a local grocery store and sees the Air Force as a promising career as well as a way to serve his country, but has been prevented from moving forward because of the ban. Tamasyn Reeves, 29, started the process to enlist in the military but has been unable to serve because of the ban. Jaquice Tate, 27, is an active-duty member of the Army, serving as a Sergeant, E-5 Rank. Unnamed plaintiffs who do not wish to disclose their names include John Doe 1, a 28-year old currently serving as a Non-Commissioned Officer E-5 Staff Sergeant in the Air Force. John Doe 2 is a 20-year old currently serving as an E-4 Specialist (SPC) Operator-Maintainer in the Army. Jane Doe is currently serving as a Staff Sergeant, E-5 Rank, in the Air Force, a Risk Management Framework Program Manager at a strategically important overseas base.
Former top military leaders who were instrumental in the meticulous year-long process of assessing and adopting a policy of open service for transgender service members have lent their voices in legal cases against the ban, including retired Admiral and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, former Secretary of the Navy Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr., and former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. All of these leaders have expressed their strong concern about the negative effects of Trump’s ban on military readiness, national security, and morale.
A hearing in Stockman v. Trump is scheduled for November 20 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Equality California, NCLR, and GLAD will continue to fight Trump’s ban in court until it no longer poses any threat to transgender Americans currently serving or who dream of serving our country.
In addition to NCLR and GLAD, plaintiffs in Stockman v. Trump are also represented by Latham & Watkins LLP.