Former Top Military Leaders File Powerful Statements of Support, As 15 State Attorneys General, National Advocacy Groups, and Leading Health Care Organizations Join the Call to Immediately Halt the Ban
(WASHINGTON, D.C., October 16, 2017)—Today, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) hit back at the Trump administration’s defense of its transgender service ban in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. NCLR and GLAD filed a brief refuting last week’s Trump Administration claims that no harms have resulted from the ban. In their brief, NCLR and GLAD demonstrate to the court why Interim Guidance issued by the military does not protect transgender troops from the irreparable harms the ban has been inflicting on them since it was announced in July. NCLR and GLAD urge the court to stop the ban now, before it takes full effect in March 2018.
Transgender service members with decades of exemplary service face military discharges that will end their careers. They are forced to choose between leaving the military now to find another means of financial support for themselves and their families, or living without income while this legal challenge works its way through the courts.
This dilemma creates an urgent need to resolve this case now, both to protect service members and to prevent the Armed Forces from losing trained, highly skilled troops.
The filing calls out the Government’s “fanciful” notion that the Interim Guidance shields the President’s order from judicial review. The Interim Guidance merely attempts to “paper over the wreckage caused by the ban” and fails to address the significant harms already put in motion:
- Nothing in the Interim Guidance prevents the reversal of the current policy permitting open service from taking effect on March 23, 2018.
- Nothing in the Interim Guidance allows qualified transgender Americans to join the military or enroll in service academies or ROTC programs.
- Nothing in the Interim Guidance changes the fact that this Administration has issued a flurry of conflicting instructions about healthcare for transgender troops that are causing ongoing confusion and delayed care.
- Nothing shields transgender service members from adverse treatment as a new sub-class of individuals, deemed unfit for reasons completely unrelated to their qualifications, capabilities, or past performance.
“The Administration can’t hide from the consequences of its actions,” said Jennifer Levi, Director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project and one of two lead attorneys on Doe v. Trump. “They brand transgender people unfit for service but want the Court to believe that nothing has changed for transgender service members on the front lines. There is no question that banning transgender people from military service harms them. President Trump’s ban must be stopped before it does any more damage to our troops and our military.”
“Thousands of transgender service members and their families cannot afford to wait,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter, the other lead attorney on Doe v. Trump. “This administration demeans and degrades those who have given decades of exemplary service to our country or who have dreamed for years of enlisting but are banned from doing so for reasons that have nothing to do with ability or qualifications. We need our courts to provide these Americans and their families with swift justice.”
Today’s filing is supported by powerful new declarations from former military leaders denouncing and disproving claims made in last week’s Trump administration filing.
According to Naval Postgraduate School Professor Mark J. Eitelberg, the ban: “prevents transgender service members from serving equally with their peers; it imposes substantial limitations on their opportunities within the military; and it negatively impacts their day-to-day relationships with co-workers and other service members.”
Former United States Secretary of the Navy Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr. said the ban will limit Naval deployment opportunities. “If a sailor may not be available for the full length of a deployment, command knows that they will have to expend significant resources to backfill staffing needs in order to address the diminishment of resources. Rather than face those challenges, command will predictably make assignments based on certainty about sailors’ ability to serve the full length of deployment.”
Former Secretary of the United States Air Force Deborah Lee James explained, “Transgender Airmen with deployment terms that extend beyond March 2018 will lose opportunities for assignments because command will not be able to determine with certainty that transgender Airmen will be present for the entire duration of the deployment.”
“The harm extends beyond the individuals involved to the whole ethos of the military as a meritocracy where all Americans who want to serve and can meet its standards should be afforded the opportunity to do so. Unjustified, categorical bans on Americans qualified and ready to serve diminishes that organizing principle,” said Former United States Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning.
Also today, 15 attorneys general from across the country stood with NCLR and GLAD in calling for an immediate halt to President Trump’s transgender military ban by filing an amicus brief in Doe v. Trump. The states joining the brief include Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.
The Attorneys General “friend-of-the-court” brief supports plaintiffs’ argument that the ban is unconstitutional, undermines national security and military readiness, and violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who led the effort on the states’ amicus brief, said: “Our military should be open to every brave American who volunteers to serve. Together with my colleagues, I am filing this brief today to ensure inclusion and opportunity for everyone who puts on a uniform.”
Friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump are being or have been filed by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) along with several state-based transgender advocacy organizations, the Trevor Project, and 11 leading medical, nursing, mental health and other health care organizations.
To access NCLR and GLAD’s brief as well as the amicus briefs submitted today, click here.
Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. www.GLAD.org
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org