Gen. James Mattis – Photo: U.S. Department of Defense.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in Stockman v. Trump, one of four lawsuits challenging President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender troops, have asked a federal judge to continue blocking the ban while their case moves forward.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders filed a motion opposing a request from the Trump administration to dissolve U.S. District Court Judge Jesus Bernal’s injunction preventing the Pentagon from implementing the policy.
The Trump administration has argued that they have amended the previous proposed ban to provide a handful of exemptions for transgender people who have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria or have not undergone gender confirmation surgery.
Because of the changes, put forth by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in March, the administration believes the policy cannot be declared discriminatory — a contention which the plaintiffs’ lawyers are forcefully pushing back on.
“There’s nothing new here,” Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said in a statement. “The supposedly ‘new policy’ excludes transgender people from military service. It is the same ban the courts have already enjoined.”
“There is no justification for a special rule banning transgender people from military service rather than permitting them to serve on the same terms as everyone else,” Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, added. “Transgender troops have already been serving their country with honor and dignity for decades.”
Earlier this month, a federal judge in Washington State in one of the other lawsuits against the ban found that the “changes” to the new policy were not substantially different, and that transgender people might be irreparably harmed if the ban were allowed to be implemented. As such, she kept in place her previous injunction, thereby blocking the White House and Pentagon from moving forward with a ban until the case is resolved in court. The plaintiffs in the Stockman case are asking Bernal to follow suit.
The plaintiffs point to medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and American Psychiartic Association have pushed back against claims that gender dysphoria makes a transgender person unqualified to serve in the military. They also accuse Mattis, and the Trump administration writ large, with misrepresenting the science behind gender dysphoria to justify their plans for a ban.
“Transgender Americans are guaranteed the same right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as any other American,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has intervened in the case to challenge the ban. “We owe transgender service members, like all Americans who courageously serve our nation, our support and gratitude for putting their lives on the line. President Trump’s transgender military service ban is primitive. It is discriminatory, plain and simple. We will fight it in every form.”