Transgender service members sue Trump over military ban

Two advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, arguing against the president’s plan to bar transgender people from serving in the U.S. military amid claims taking such action could come with a hefty price tag.

The National Center for Lesbian rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders filed the federal suit on Wednesday on behalf of five active-duty transgender service members, identified in court documents only as Jane Doe 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Combined, they boast nearly 60 years of military service, according to a news release from their legal team.

“The directive to reinstate a ban on open service by transgender people violates both the Equal Protection component of the Fifth amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the groups said in the complaint.

The suit names President Trump as a defendant as well as several other top military officials including Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford.

Trump said he consulted “Generals and military experts” before announcing a ban on transgender service members on Twitter back in July.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump said on July 26.

However, a report done last year by the RAND Corporation said gender transition care would add between $ 2.4 million and $ 8.4 million to the military’s annual cost — or what’s equal to less than a one percent increase to the military’s $ 49.3 billion health care budget.

What’s more, a new report co-authored by current and retired professors at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey estimated the discharging of transgender troops would “cost $ 960 million in pursuit of saving $ 8.4 million a year.”

The cost of discharging and replacing the military’s estimated 12,800 trans service members is nearly 100 times that of trans health care according to the report.

In the wake of Trump’s ban tweet, Dunford issued a letter explaining the policy would not be changed until the White House issued additional “guidance,” leaving an Obama administration policy that allows transgender people to openly serve in effect, for now.

Those suing Trump, however, argue they’ve already been harmed due to the uncertainty and fear now associated with serving.

“Trump’s directive to exclude transgender people from military service has created a tidal wave of harms that have already been felt throughout our armed services,” Shannon Minter, a transgender legal expert and NCLR Legal Director, said in a statement. “Transgender service members have been blindsided by this shift and are scrambling to deal with that it means for their futures and their families.

“The President’s mistreament of these dedicated troops will serve only to weaken and demoralize our armed forces.”

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