The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging President Trump’s directive to reinstate a ban on transgender people serving in the military. The suit, Doe v. Trump, was filed on behalf of 5 transgender service members with nearly 60 years of combined military service.
In June 2016, after comprehensive review of the issue by military experts and others, the Department of Defense announced that transgender people could serve openly in all branches of the U.S. military. The Department concluded that the ban served no legitimate purpose and that open service by transgender people would serve the military’s best interests. Since that time, thousands of transgender service members have begun to serve openly.
“Last year, the Department of Defense announced that transgender people could serve openly,” said one plaintiff. “I was very relieved and came out as transgender to my commanding officers, who were supportive. My experience has been positive and I am prouder than ever to continue to serve. I am married and have three children, and the military has been my life. But now, I’m worried about my family’s future.”
Plaintiffs serve in the Air Force, the Coast Guard, and the Army. Their years of service range from three years to two decades, and include tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result of the President’s statements, they face dramatic uncertainty about their futures including the potential loss of their professions, livelihoods, and post-military and retirement benefits.
The complaint, which can be viewed here, rests on claims of equal protection, due process and estoppel, based on the inequity of the reversal of military policy after thousands of service members followed protocol and informed their chain of command that they are transgender.
In addition to NCLR and GLAD, the plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump are represented by lawyers from Foley, Hoag LLP and WilmerHale.