Five transgender service members have sued President Donald Trump, challenging his proposed ban on transgender people serving in the US military.
Trump’s announcement on Twitter last month that the US government “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity” in the armed forces was met with outrage.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [sic] in the military would entail,” Trump tweeted.
The tweets reportedly surprised both military officials and many transgender service members who came out after the Pentagon said in June 2016 trans people would be allowed to serve openly.
The lawsuit, filed by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Centre for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), says “categorically excluding” trans people from military service is unconstitutional.
The service members in the suit are three US Army soldiers, one US Air Force airman and one member of the U.S. Coast Guard who have nearly 60 years of combined service between them.
In a statement, one of the plaintiffs spoke of their relief when the transgender ban was lifted last year.
“[I] 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,” they said.
“I am married and have three children, and the military has been my life. But now, I’m worried about my family’s future.”
NCLR director Shannon Minter said transgender service members had been “blindsided” by the announcement.
“Transgender service members are scrambling to deal with what it means for their futures and their families,” Minter said.
“The President’s mistreatment of these dedicated troops will serve only to weaken and demoralize our armed forces.”
Late last month, a spokesperson said the Trump administration “will work with the Department of Defense and all of the relevant parties to make sure that we fully implement this policy moving forward and do so in a lawful manner.”