Civil rights groups sue Trump over transgender ban

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Transgender members of the U.S. armed services have gone to court to challenge Donald Trump's ban on their joining the military.

"Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly, and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender", said former Defense Secretary Ash Carter last June. At the time, the Department of Justice concluded that there was no basis for the military to exclude transgender individuals from serving in the military, and the resolution required the Military Health System to provide transgender service members with the medical care needed to transition, according to the Department of Defense.

"He has chose to use the service of men and women who are transgender as a political football, and the cruelty of that decision and policy is hard to understate", said David Rocah, with the ACLU. It argues that the ban violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, as well as due process and free speech.

According to a Rand Corp study issued a year ago, there would be "minimal" effect on readiness, with only 10 to 130 active-duty members having reduced deployability because of gender transition-related treatments, the ACLU's suit says.

While a White House official refused to specify on Friday whether or not there might be any case in which a transgender service member now in the military could remain in the service, the White House says the Pentagon will decide a best "implementation plan" to address the situation by a deadline of March 23, 2018. "At a time when transgender people are facing alarming rates of discrimination, violence and lack of access to housing and medical care, this blatantly discriminatory ban is a slap in the face to our members". "Although the Transgender Service Member Ban purports to be based on President Trump's 'judgment, ' that judgment appears to reflect nothing more than uninformed speculation, myths, and stereotypes that have already been rebutted by an extensive and rigorous evidence-based process", the suit says.

"For our president, who opted out of serving in the military, to attack transgender people for being unfit to serve... is the height of hypocrisy", said Virginian transgender candidate Danica Roem. Both of these complaints seek injunctive relief.

Trump as well as Defense Secretary James Mattis, who's charged with implementation of the new transgender military ban, are named defendants in both the lawsuits.

The new litigation comes on the heels of a policy memo from the San Francisco-based Palm Center, which disputes reports in the media that Trump's transgender policy is a watered-down version of an outright ban.

The memo called on Mattis to submit a plan to Trump by February 21, 2018, on how to implement the changes.

The ACLU included screenshots of those tweets in its lawsuit.

Yet he reversed course on transgenders serving in the military, first announcing his ban on Twitter in July while offering scant details on its implememation. "This unprecedented policy amounts to a purge of qualified, contributing troops, and will serve only to undermine unit cohesion and weaken military readiness", said Jennifer Levi, an official at the gay rights group GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders) in a statement. Two other groups filed a similar suit last week, challenging Trump's claims that transgender individuals are a disruptive force in the military.

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