The President signed a memorandum that would reverse an Obama-era decision to allow transgender individuals to openly serve in the United States military. The document formalizes the discriminatory ban that Trump unexpectedly announced in a series of tweets last month, turning a pointless, bigoted idea into official U.S. policy.
"This ban not only wrongfully prevents patriotic, talented Americans from serving, it also compromises the safety and security of our country", Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed one of the lawsuits in Baltimore federal court on behalf of six transgender people serving in several branches of the army.
Trump ordered the military to stop paying for transition-related medical expenses, unless the service members' health was in jeopardy, and the ACLU asked the judge to reverse that order immediately.
One of the Seattle plaintiffs is 33-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Cathrine Schmid, who has served for more than 12 years and is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of the city. These advocates also argue that the federal and state government must support people who say they are "transgender" by requiring other people to treat them as members of the opposite sex and to refer to them with opposite-sex pronouns.
Trump also gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis six months to draft a policy on trans people now serving.
The lawsuits, filed in federal courts in Seattle and Baltimore, say the ban issued on Friday violated USA constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. A Defense Department spokesman echoed that position at a briefing with reporters.
Thousands of transgender Americans serve in the armed forces, putting themselves in harm's way to protect the rights and freedoms in the USA, the ACLU said in the complaint. "And we are on the side of every single transgender service member and those who want to serve".
"The Trump administration has provided no evidence that this pronouncement was based on an analysis of the actual cost and disruption allegedly caused by allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly", ACLU lawyers said.
"We hoped that the ill-advised ban would languish on the president's Twitter feed, but unfortunately, he turned the tweets into a directive banning open transgender service", said Strangio. She is honored to serve her country, and she deserves to continue!
Before the policy change by the Obama administration, the Pentagon had concluded that there was no basis for the military to exclude transgender people, as long as they could meet the same fitness requirements as other service members. The military spends ten times that amount - $84 million annually - providing Viagra and sexual dysfunction medications to members of the armed forces.
The case was filed on behalf of six serving transgender members of the armed forces.