Gender Justice League Sues Trump Administration Over Transgender Military Ban

The Seattle nonprofit is a plaintiff in one of two new lawsuits against the ban.

“The United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” tweeted President Donald Trump on July 26. In addition to banning new enlistment and allowing discharge, Trump ordered that transgender service members be barred from promotion (“accession”) to officer-status, and he nixed federal money for “sex reassignment surgical procedures” for trans soldiers.

On Monday, two lawsuits were filed challenging the ban. One was in Maryland. The other was in Washington’s Western District Court.

The latter suit asks the court to issue a judgement declaring the ban unconstitutional, and to enjoin Trump and the military from enforcing the ban. One of the plaintiffs is Ryan Karnoski, a 22-year-old trans man who lives and works in Seattle as a mental health clinician. After his cousin was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2009, he realized that military service is “a personal calling for him,” according to the lawsuit’s complaint.

Another is Staff Sergeant Cathrine Schmid, a 33-year-old trans woman who lives in Lakewood and is currently stationed as a Brigade Land and Ammunition Manager at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. According to the compliant, she “has always been a patriotic American with a desire to serve,” and has been held back from promotion because of Trump’s order.

A third plaintiff, identified only by the initials DL, is a trans male high school student in Corpus Christi, Texas, who wants to serve in the Air Force as a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape trainer.

These individuals are joined by two organizational plaintiffs: national LGBT advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign and the Gender Justice League, a Seattle-based nonprofit.

“Dripping with animus, the Ban and the current accessions bar violate the equal process and due process guarantees of the Fifth Amendment and the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment,” reads the complaint, filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe SLDN, an organization that supports LGBT soldiers and vets. “They are unsupported by any compelling, important, or even rational justification.”

Trans service members were first formally permitted in 2016, at the end of President Barack Obama’s term. At the time, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said excluding trans people from the military limits the pool of talent available. “The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now—the finest fighting force the world has ever known,” he said, according to NPR.

Part of Trump’s rationale for the ban is the cost of medical care for transgender soldiers. According to a Department of Defense study cited in the lawsuit, the cost of gender transitional health care for active-duty service members is between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually. By comparison, the lawsuit argues, “it would cost $960 million to recruit and train the replacements for all the transgender individuals who are currently serving in the military.”

The lawsuit also argues that Trump did not even go through the motions of apolitical deliberation before announcing the ban, choosing instead to surprise the Pentagon with series of cliffhanger tweets:

“Before the President’s Twitter announcement, other top Pentagon officials were similarly unaware of his decision to ban transgender individuals from the military,” reads the complaint. “In fact, in the nine minutes between the President’s tweet at 8:55 a.m. Eastern Time…and his next tweet at 9:04 a.m. Eastern Time, there were concerns that President Trump was declaring war on North Korea.”

“The Ban and current accessions bar are motivated by impermissible animus towards transgender people and are thus invalid as a whole,” reads the complaint. “The Ban and the current accessions bar lack adequate tailoring and fail to serve even a legitimate governmental interest. Indeed, they epitomize the very kind of arbitrary and capricious government action that the Due Process Clause forbids.”

cjaywork@seattleweekly.com


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Fire inflicted heavy damage to the second floor and roof of the 2-story apartment-and ground-floor retail building at 115 East Main Street beginning late on the night of Friday July 23 and continuing into early Saturday morning. The Valley Regional Fire Authority reports that all residents got out safely. Photo courtesy Auburn Police Department.
Fire sweeps downtown Auburn apartment building, all residents out safely

Firefighters had to rescue two residents from the roof of an apartment… Continue reading

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Elaine Simons, former foster mother of Jesse Sarey, addresses a crowd outside the Maleng Regional Justice Center on Aug. 24, 2020, moments after Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson was formally charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the May 31, 2019, shooting death of 26-year-old Sarey in front of a north Auburn convenience store. File photo
Supreme Court rules officers can be compelled to testify about killings

In a joint lawsuit against King County, the Washington State Supreme Court… Continue reading

Stock photo
Face coverings again recommended for indoor public settings

Regardless of vaccination status, says Public Health – Seattle & King County

t
Firearm violence in King County on upward trend

King County prosecutors note a backlog in court cases, point to the pandemic as the reason why.

t
Kent-based Blue Origin completes its first human flight into space | Photos

Founder Jeff Bezos and three others launch, land safely aboard New Shepard in West Texas

infographic created by Coltura
Study suggests that the top 10 percent of gasoline-using drivers consume one-third of all the gas

Researchers believe converting “gasoline superusers” is an important factor in meeting climate goals

Source: King County Medical Examiner’s Office
Drug overdose data shows an alarming trend in recent years

King County data indicates massive increase in fentanyl deaths from 2008 to 2020.

Drop box at the King County Elections headquarters in Renton. File photo
What is ranked-choice voting and why does it matter?

King County leaders discuss implementing a new system that aims to better reflect the will of voters

Most Read