How LGBT groups are fighting to stop Trump's transgender military ban


A group of LGBT organisations and transgender activists have joined forces to try and stop Donald Trump’s transgender military ban. 

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) are pushing ahead in a US district court to permanently block the memorandum from going into effect. Their efforts are spearheaded by Jennifer Levi, GLAD transgender rights project director, and Shannon Minter, NCLR legal director, who both identify as transgender. 

“It’s very clear that there’s not any legitimate military concern that would justify excluding transgender military people, and that’s for very good reason because the military already has very comprehensive standards for enlistment and retention,” Minter told The Independent. ”Everyone has to fit the same standards, and there is no other group of people that the military has singled out and said is unqualified to serve.“

Dozens gather in Times Square in July near a military recruitment centre to protest Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate a ban on transgender troops (Getty Images )

Under former President Barack Obama, the Department of Defense began permitting transgender people to serve in military forces after. Then in July of last year, Mr Trump tweeted “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” spurring Secretary of Defense James Mattis to create a memorandum calling for the official ban. 

Minter was back in court this week to file a reply in support of his cross-motion for summary judgement in the case titled Doe v. Trump, arguing that the plan is simply “a blueprint to ensure that no transgender individuals serve in our nation’s armed forces in any capacity.”

“As a transgender man myself I certainly have a direct stake in the equality of transgender people, and I know from my own experience that being transgender has nothing to do with your qualifications or capacity to contribute to society,” Levi continued. ”I’m also very concerned that if discrimination in the US military is permitted, that will be used to justify discrimination against transgender people in many other contexts: civilian employment, family law, sports, health care. The arguments the government is making in this case are based overtly on prejudice. They’re saying transgender people are mentally unstable and that gender transition doesn’t work.”

The groups managed to score at least a partial victory in October of last year, when the court determined a temporary injunction of the ban was necessary due to public interest and to avoid possible irreparable harm to transgender service members as the case is deliberated. 

The NCLR and GLAD’s joint filing is one of four lawsuits aimed at preventing the ban from going into effect, and representatives from both organisations say they’re hopeful Judge Kollar-Kotelly will permanently block the move. 

“This filing brings us one step closer to a final resolution of this case,” GLAD said in a statement. ”Transgender service members have continued to put their lives on the line for this country while having to defend themselves from attack from this administration. They deserve honor and respect, not discharge papers.”

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