Metro Weekly

Lawyers for trans Naval officer granted waiver to drop lawsuit against Trump’s military ban

Lawyers say the granting of "one single waiver" doesn't negate the harm done by the ban on transgender military personnel

trans, transgender, military, ban, trump

American flag on the side of the Pentagon – Photo: Joeyp3413, via Wikimedia

Lawyers representing a transgender U.S. Naval officer who sued the federal government over the Trump administration’s restrictions on transgender military personnel have announced they will drop their case after their client was granted a waiver by the U.S. Navy last month.

Representatives of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a voluntary dismissal of their complaint in the Doe v. Esper case.

Their client, Naval Lt. Jane Doe, was told she will be granted a waiver to serve in her “preferred gender” — the first such waiver granted since President Trump’s ban on transgender service members went into effect last year.

In the motion for voluntary dismissal — without prejudice, meaning the lawsuit can be revived if the Navy or the Department of Defense attempt to forcibly discharge her at a future date — Doe’s lawyers notified the court that she no longer intends to pursue the lawsuit.

“Because Lieutenant Doe is now ‘exempt’ based on the Navy’s recent approval of her longpending waiver request, Lieutenant Doe no longer needs the Court’s immediate intervention to protect her from unlawful discharge or continuing denial of medical care under the unconstitutional transgender military ban,” her lawyers wrote in the motion.

Related: Federal court orders Pentagon to turn over documents related to decision behind transgender military ban

Both GLAD and NCLR are continuing to challenge the Trump administration’s policy on transgender service personnel in two other lawsuits, Doe v. Trump, based out of Washington, D.C., and Stockman v. Trump, based out of California. Both cases are expected to go to trial within the next calendar year.

Doe’s legal team celebrated their client’s victory, while also vowing to continue fighting the Trump administration in other ways, until the policy barring transgender troops is completely overturned. 

“Our client is relieved that she will be able to continue her service without fear of discharge,” Jennifer Levi, the Transgender Rights Project Director at GLAD, said in a statement. “While it is frustrating that it took a lawsuit to make it happen, her top priority is to continue using her skills and training to serve her country in the career to which she has dedicated nearly a decade of her life. Individuals like Officer Doe demonstrate every day that being transgender has no bearing on a person’s fitness to serve.”

“We know there are many other equally qualified transgender troops who continue to serve under threat of discharge, including several who are navigating the waiver process with no results,” Shannon Minter, the legal director for NCLR, said in a statement. “The transgender military ban is irrational and harmful. The granting of one single waiver does nothing to change that.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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