April 11, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Defense began enforcing the transgender military ban proposed by President Trump one year ago tomorrow, on April 12, 2019. Five legal cases challenging the policy are currently pending in the federal courts.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) represent active service members, students in ROTC and military academy programs, and aspiring recruits in Doe v. Trump (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, filed August 2017) and Stockman v. Trump (Central District of California, filed September 2017). Last month the organizations filed a third challenge to the ban, Doe v. Esper, (U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts) on behalf of a successful U.S. Navy officer who has served two extended tours of duty over nine years and is now facing involuntary discharge because she is transgender. Doe v. Esper is the first case brought against the ban since it went into effect last year.
Attorneys from GLAD and NCLR issued the following statements on the one year anniversary of implementation of the ban:
“It is a stain on the character of our nation that this ban has been in effect for a full year,” said Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project Director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “It weakens and debases our military to threaten discharge of highly trained, dedicated service members under a politically motivated policy with no basis in anything but bias. And in the midst of the current national health crisis, when we need all hands on deck, it puts our nation at risk to deprive our military of valuable, highly needed resources.”
“This is a shameful anniversary for our country. One year in, we are seeing the damage this unconscionable policy is wreaking, not only on transgender service members and their families, but on the military itself,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). “Until this ban is overturned, transgender individuals are barred from service regardless of their qualifications and ability to meet military standards. As the multiple legal challenges to the ban proceed to trial, we are confident the courts will recognize that there is no justification for excluding an entire group of people for reasons that have nothing to do with their ability to serve.”
Polls have shown that 71% of Americans, including a growing percentage of the President’s own party, agree that transgender individuals who meet military standards should be able to serve openly. A recent poll conducted by the Department of Defense found that 66% of active-duty service members across all four branches support the service of transgender people.
For more information on the legal timeline and ongoing developments in the legal cases challenging the ban, please visit notransmilitaryban.org.