LGBT+ legal non-profit organisation’s lawsuit over Trump’s transgender military ban on course to go to trial

One of the largest LGBT+ legal non-profit organisations has announced its lawsuit against President Trump’s transgender military ban is on course to go to trial.

Lambda Legal – one of the largest and oldest legal groups that advocate for LGBT+ rights in the US – announced last year that it was taking on the Trump administration’s military ban on transgender troops. Now, a federal court in Seattle has found that the lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN can proceed to trial.

“The court wants to expose this bigoted ban for all of its ugliness at trial, and we are happy to oblige. If it’s a full record the judge wants, then it’s a full record we will give her,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Natalie Nardecchia said. “We look forward to putting the capriciousness and cruelty of this discriminatory ban against transgender people on trial, where it can be relegated for good to the trash heap of history, alongside other vile military policies that discriminated based on race, sex, and sexual orientation.”

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

“Until the ban is put on trial, transgender people serving or wishing to serve in the military are protected by four separate court injunctions barring its implementation,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn added. “If history is any prediction of the future, the ban is still doomed at its next reckoning.”

The ruling came in response to several motions argued late last month before the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. While the judge did not grant the Motion for Summary Judgment requested by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, the court also rejected the Trump Administration’s Motion to Dismiss President Trump from the lawsuit.

“I remain resolute,” Staff Sergeant Cathrine Schmid said. “I will continue to perform my duties as I always have. Being transgender has no impact on my ability to perform those duties, and I look forward to demonstrating that, both in court and at my unit every day.”

“While it does not grant the ultimate relief – a judgment without trial – the court’s decision gets us well on the way to defeating this ban,” OutServe-SLDN Legal Director Peter Perkowski said. “Significantly, the court rejected the government’s position that last month’s announcement was a ‘new policy,’ it kept the preliminary injunction in place, and set a high bar for the government to prevail. We remain confident that the facts presented at trial will prove determinative and we can finally put this discriminatory and harmful ban out of our misery.”

(Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN represent nine individual plaintiffs, all of whom are transgender, and three organisational plaintiffs.

The organisational plaintiffs are the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), who joined the lawsuit on behalf of their transgender members harmed by the ban. The case has also been joined by the state of Washington.

“The upcoming trial will only serve to further demonstrate that this impulsively tweeted ban is fuelled by nothing more than the president’s personal prejudices,” said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. “Transgender people are serving with distinction and enlisting with bravery this very moment and there continues to be no legitimate rationale to change that.”

“We are confident that justice will prevail as the unconscionable Trump-Pence transgender military ban is weighed against the facts in court,” said American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “Our transgender service members are serving our nation with pride, and it’s time that Donald Trump and Mike Pence abandon their vicious assault and begin supporting them as the brave American heroes they are.”

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has manoeuvred its way around the federal block on a transgender military ban by creating a panel of anti-trans organisations to justify a revised version of the legislation.

Protesters gather in front of the White House on July 26, 2017, in Washington, DC. Trump announced on July 26 that transgender people may not serve "in any capacity" in the US military, citing the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" their presence would cause. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)


Trans people have been allowed to enlist in the military since 1 January 2018.

The initial blanket ban, which was rejected by federal judges, resurfaced in a different format in late March, when the Pentagon said it would continue to comply with federal law, and “continue to assess and retain transgender service members”.

The new ban recommends that transgender people are blocked from applying to the military unless under “exceptional circumstances”.

While several federal courts have taken a stand against the ban, it looks like it will be up to the Supreme Court to resolve the matter for good.

In the meantime, the Trump administration will be pushing against the federal courts for the ban to take effect.