Metro Weekly

Advocates ask D.C. federal court to permanently block Trump transgender military ban

Plaintiffs say "new" Pentagon policy is no different from previous, more sweeping ban on transgender service members

The Pentagon. Photo: Department of Defense – Photo: Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force, via Wikimedia.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs in one of four cases challenging President Trump’s ban on transgender service members filed a motion reiterating its request that a federal judge permanently block the ban from taking effect.

Replying to a rebuttal from the Trump administration, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders rejected the idea that a revised Pentagon policy issued in April — which would ban all but a limited number of transgender people from serving — was no different than its earlier blanket-ban prohibiting any transgender individual from serving in the Armed Forces.

“The Mattis Plan, like the 2017 Presidential Memorandum, bans people who undergo gender transition from serving in the military,” the reply in support of a cross-motion for summary judgment reads. “Defendants assert that this is not a ban on transgender people, as the President ordered, but a ‘new’ policy based on a medical condition and thus warrants only the most deferential review. But that defense lacks any footing in reality. On its face, the Mattis Plan restricts military service to individuals who live in their ‘biological sex’ — i.e., who are not transgender.”

The plaintiffs’ reply is the last in a series of filings that must occur before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, rules on whether to permanently block the Trump administration’s policy from being implemented.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the D.C. case, Doe v. Trump, which include several anonymous transgender active-duty service members, have argued that the ban, whether in its current or previous form, singles out transgender Americans for disparate treatment for no other reason than their gender identity.

“Excluding transgender people works only to prevent otherwise qualified people from serving in our nation’s Armed Forces,” the plaintiff’s lawyers write in their filing. “While Defendants try to portray transgender people as more likely than others to be unfit, they cannot explain why transgender people alone should be subject to categorical exclusion rather than generally applicable enlistment, deployment, and retention standards.

“Their claim that service by transgender people will harm unit cohesion rests on pernicious stereotypes. And Defendants cannot rely on the added costs of providing medical care to transgender troops where, as here, they have no independent reason for choosing to save costs by excluding those troops.”

Kollar-Kotelly previously issued a temporary injunction last October that prevented the Pentagon from moving to implement a broad-based ban on transgender service members until challenges to the policy were decided by the courts.

“There is no legitimate justification for barring transgender people from military service based on who they are, rather than their ability to do the job,” Shannon Minter, the legal director of NCLR, said in a statement. “The government cannot make up reasons after the fact to justify a policy that is based on prejudice, not genuine military concerns.”

“This filing brings us one step closer to a final resolution of this case,” GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi said in a statement. “Transgender servicemembers have continued to put their lives on the line for this country while having to defend themselves from attack from this administration. They deserve honor and respect, not discharge papers.”

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