Five transgender service members are suing Trump and other government officials who would be in charge of implementing the policy over the president’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the military. While such a ban has not yet gone into effect, the lawsuit explains this guidance from the commander in chief has already harmed transgender people who are in the military by taking away their “reasonable expectation of continued service.”
The lawsuit, filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, seeks a permanent injunction that would prohibit the government from implementing the ban. The five anonymous service members have followed protocol by informing their chain of command they’re transgender, the suit contends, and they did so because of the government’s “express promises that it would permit them to continue to serve their country openly.”
“Transgender service members have been blindsided by this shift and are scrambling to deal with what it means for their futures and their families,” said Shannon Minter, a transgender legal expert and NCLR’s legal director, in a statement. “The President’s mistreatment of these dedicated troops will serve only to weaken and demoralize our armed forces.”
The plaintiffs’ stories offer a glimpse of some of the consequences such a ban would have on the lives on transgender service members. One, identified as Jane Doe 4, has been an active-duty member of the Air Force for nearly 20 years and will lose retirement benefits. “She fears that the president’s directive banning transgender people from military service will result in her discharge from the military before she can reach this twenty-year benchmark, thus leading to a substantial decrease in her retirement payment,” the lawsuit reads. Another plaintiff, who began seeking medical care related to her gender transition last year relying on the fact she was allowed to serve openly, has been “counting on the compensation and benefits accrued during that time to pay for further education and training to begin a civilian career, but she fears that the ban may result in early termination of her contract.”
The five plaintiffs have nearly 60 years of combined service in the Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like many others, the lawsuit explains, they have built their lives around their military service. “Separation from the military would have devastating financial and emotional consequences” the lawsuit says of another active-duty member of the Air Force who has served for nearly 20 years.
You can read the lawsuit below: