Outserve-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

"See You in Court, Mr. President!"

Donald Trump has created quite the spectacle recently with his inhumane views and ignorant comments regarding football and everything else you could possibly think of. However, in addition to the hefty (and completely acceptable, in my opinion) backlash he has received, he still has a few things on his plate that requires much attention – lawsuits. 

In July, Trump followed his usual antics when he took to Twitter to surprise all of America, including his administration, with a threat to ban transgender individuals from the military. A threat he seems pretty certain to push for as he officially signed a memo that bans transgender men and women with hopes of enlisting in the military from fulfilling their dreams of serving their country on Friday, August 25th. However, his unwarranted notion created a quick response on Monday, August 28th as he got slapped with lawsuits from both Lambda Legal and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Lambda Legal, who teamed up with Outserve-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) for their lawsuit, is a national legal nonprofit and the lawsuit from ACLU, a nonpartisan nonprofit, was filed on behalf of an 11-year Navy veteran, Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone, alongside several other transgender members of the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy. Both organizations agree in their motions that Trump’s transgender ban singles out the transgender community by subjecting them to “unequal and discriminatory treatment” which is completely unconstitutional. 

These two lawsuits join another that was previously filed in early August by 5 active duty and anonymous “Jane Doe” service members who are all being represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) group. Each of the five plaintiffs relied on the 2016 policy initiated by President Obama that lifted the ban on transgender service members when they notified their commanding officers that they were transgender, a decision they feel has caused them to lose the stability and certainty they once had in their careers and benefits, including those that are post-retirement. In addition to directing focus to the constitutional challenges this ban presents, they ask that the court find Trump’s intentions to be a violation of the promises the government has made to members of the military. Although anonymous, the 5 service members include a Coast Guard member who has written a prospective letter of resignation if needed, an Air Force service member of approximately 20 years who has been stationed in Iraq twice and three Army soldiers.

The current memo, which was sent to the Pentagon, not only bars the military from providing funding for gender confirmation surgeries for those currently enlisted, but it also leaves Defense Secretary Jim Mattis responsible for deciding whether to remove transgender servicemen and women who are currently serving - a decision he has not yet to make and a responsibility he is ordered to fulfill by January 1, 2018.