The American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP today asked a judge to immediately halt to the Trump administration’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military while their lawsuit challenging the ban moves through the court system.
The motion for preliminary injunction was filed on behalf of the ACLU of Maryland and six current members of the armed forces who are transgender: Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone, Senior Airman John Doe, Airman First Class Seven Ero George, Petty Officer First Class Teagan Gilbert, Staff Sergeant Kate Cole, and Technical Sergeant Tommie Parker.
In the filing, the ACLU argues that a preliminary injunction is needed to ensure that irreparable harm is not done to military personnel and potential enlistees who are transgender while the case is resolved in the courts. The ACLU motion argues that the ban violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection and substantive due process as well as the statutory right to medical care that all service members enjoy.
“Men and women who are transgender should be allowed to serve their country rather than being exposed to this level of uncertainty and harm,” said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. “We’re confident that the courts will eventually strike down this unconstitutional ban. So we’re demanding a court order to prevent this shameful policy from ever being implemented.”
At the culmination of a thorough process, the Department of Defense concluded in 2016 that there was no basis for the military to exclude transgender individuals from openly serving their country, subject to the same fitness requirements as other service members. This review process carefully considered and rejected the notion that medical costs, military readiness, or other factors presented any reason to discriminate against transgender individuals, many of whom had already been serving with honor in silence for years.
For example, Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone has served in the U.S. Navy for 11 years, including a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. He has received extensive and costly training and is skilled in his field. He has devoted and risked his life for the United States and is seeking nothing more than the ability to continue to do so on the same terms as his fellow service members.
The other individual plaintiffs are:
- Staff Sergeant Cole has served in the U.S. Army for almost 10 years, including a one-year deployment to Afghanistan where she served as a team leader and designated marksman.
- Senior Airman Doe has served for approximately six years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, where he was awarded “Airman of the Year” for his flight and hopes to serve in the armed forces for his entire career.
- Airman First Class George is a member of the Air National Guard. He is training as a nurse and intends to pursue a commission in the U.S. Army.
- Petty Officer First Class Gilbert has served in the U.S. Navy for 13 years, including a one-year deployment to Afghanistan, and currently serves as an Information Technology specialist.
- Technical Sergeant Parker served in the Marine Corps for four years and has served in the Air National Guard for 16 years, currently as a fuel technician.