Groups Sue Over Trump's Plan—If He Actually Has One—to Boot Transgender People Out of Military

Five members of the military disclosed their status. Now they're worried they'll get kicked out.


Transgender protest
Robin Rayne Nelson/ZUMA Press/Newscom

It's still not clear how or even really if the military's transgender ban will proceed, but two legal organizations are nevertheless suing to try to stop it.

President Donald Trump infamously declared on Twitter in July that he was going to reverse the policies started under President Barack Obama to accommodate transgender troops. Trump indicated a complete reversal—no more transgender troops would be allowed to serve at all.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders announced today they've filed a federal civil complaint aiming to halt any rollback in policies allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military. They are representing five unnamed current transgender members of the armed forces.

Trump did not actually consult with Pentagon officials before his abrupt announcement. They were caught unprepared, to say the least, and there is at the moment no formal plan to implement what the president said they were going to do. As it stands, nothing has changed, and all we really have are tweets. One big news story today throws those tweets in a new light: On the same morning Trump suddenly tweeted out a change in transgender policy, the FBI was raiding the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

According the D.C.-based LGBT newspaper Washington Blade, the White House is hammering out a formal process to change the rules, but it's not yet public:

Though the policy—called "A Guidance Policy for Open Transgender Service Phase Out"—has not yet been made public, sources familiar with the planning said it would encourage early retirement, usher out any enlisted personnel after their contract is up, and would fire trans officers up for promotion. Basically, said a source, "the administration wants to get rid of transgender service members as fast as they can."

No one yet knows what will happen to the service members currently fighting in combat. The new policy does allow trans service members to continue serving but apparently does not offer any protection from harassment or other efforts to get them to quit.

Be wary of what unnamed sources say when they're documenting policy proposals still in the drafting process. It's not necessarily that they're intentionally being misleading, but as we saw when dealing with a possible LGBT-focused religious freedom executive order, what comes out may end up looking very different from what's being worked on. It's a slight downside to having such a leaky administration, though certainly getting information about policy changes before they're fully formalized is useful in its own way.

Without an actual formal policy change to resist, it's not clear how the courts might interpret this lawsuit or if the plaintiffs have actual standing to sue here. A spokesperson for NCLR didn't respond to an emailed request from Reason asking if they have any information about what the actual policy will look like. The lawsuit indicates they believe the White House has formalized a plan to be transmitted to the Department of Defense, but it has no factual details of what's in the plan.

The lawsuit says the as-yet-unseen policy change violates due process and equal protection under the Fifth Amendment. It also explains that the plaintiffs disclosed their transgender status to the military with the understanding that doing so would no longer threaten their careers, and therefore they're asking the federal courts to block a reversal of that promise.

Read the lawsuit here. The American Civil Liberties Union has said it too would participate in a legal challenge to a trans ban, once one is introduced. It has sent a letter to the Department of Defense asking the Pentagon to maintain any documents related to any policy changes.

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  1. “One big news story today throws those tweets in a new light: On the same morning Trump suddenly tweeted out a change in transgender policy, the FBI was raiding the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.”


    This seems totally unrelated, and shoehorned into this story.

    1. Virtue signaling to their leftist pals?

    2. I can see how it was related, but then he never touched on it again. Maybe this is an issue with a fast draft that left in some earlier info.

      1. Yeah… the implication seemed to be that Trump was attempting to distract from the Manafort thing, but it wasn’t really supported or even mentioned again so… eh?

  2. I make a deal with you Reason. You assure me that these individuals will be able to go down range at anytime, serve in any unit in any capacity then I will so no prob. Did you know that most ships in the US Navy do not have a doctor on-board. No I am not talking they don’t have a full medical facility they actually do not have a physician on board. Do you think you can deploy a person who requires long term hormone therapy for 6-8 months at a time without access to a Doctor? This isn’t a case such as women on ships where a few changes in berthing compartments will allow them to serve on any ship. Are we now to man every ship and sub with a doctor on the off chance one ship is assigned a transgender individual? Of course not so now they will be restricted to a few ship classes. That hurts the Navy the Transgender individual and everyone else. Hey bob yeah I know you want to go to that class of ship but I have to hold that for a Transgender sailor even though you are better qualified.

    1. Plus, it makes playing dick chicken even more difficult. What if Larry doesn’t have a penis yet?!

      1. Guys without penises always seem to be named Larry, don’t they?

        1. Or Steve, or Hank, or Bob.

          1. Bob

            guy with no arms or legs in the water.

            1. Hang him on the wall. Name him Art.

    2. Please cite the medical rationale for requiring a physician, in lieu of an IDC, on a ship to care for a post-transition transgender Service member?

      1. Umm long term hormone therapy for starters. You think an IDC has the training to handle that alone. Doubt it But what of the non post-transition. When Obama opened the service to transgenders it wasn’t just post-transition it was any. The majority coming in are going to be pre-transition not post. As I said if they are able to be deployed anywhere at anytime then I will withdraw my objection. But from all I have seen I doubt that will be the case.

        1. I won’t dismiss that possibility that there are doctors that agree with you, that hormone therapy requires constant check-ins with a doctor.

          But the simple fact is, you’re all over-stating it. You could get by with a nurse and speak to a doctor by phone every couple of months if really necessary (in most cases, won’t be necessary).

  3. Did ‘Fat Boy’ and ‘Little Man’ identify as male or was it all just a social construct. Also, I’m pretty sure the ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ is female. ‘Rods from God’ are, obviously, genderless.

  4. It’s a dumb faux-tweet-policy, but there’s no injury, so no standing. I want to read the brief that argues that Trump’s tweet will cause imminent injury.

    Seriously though, what a stupid tweet.

    1. It’s not a dumb faux-tweet policy, it’s an hilarious faux-tweet policy.


  6. Who cares? Service isn’t a right and that goes double for the mentally ill.

    1. Peep. I’m so tired of the bulkshit that everyone thinks they can inflict on our military personnel. Most of the people here at Reason certainly have no respect for them, or worse.

    2. Exactly.

  7. Trump did not actually consult with Pentagon officials before his abrupt announcement.

    Irrelevancy ahead: Rumor has it the Pentagon is, as far as bureaucratic office buildings go, a sizable place. He supposedly spoke with some military personnel with regard to the request from certain members of Congress about funding elective(?) surgeries, which reportedly sparked this mess. It’s difficult to declare who knew what at the moment as far as I can tell.

    1. Reason will always make sure Trump is never given the benefit of the doubt.

      1. What about that article yesterday explicitly calling for him to be given the benefit of the doubt in the economy?

        Also, why give a politician the benefit of the doubt?

  8. Here’s what the policy should be: treat people in the military who claim to be “transgender” exactly the same as anyone else. Ignore the fact that they claim to be “transgender”.

    1. But this is all about forcing others to acknowledge them.

      1. Of course it is. The neutral policy for the military in this is to decline to acknowledge them, including not forbidding them to serve.

        1. When have we ever had that “neutral” policy?

  9. All I’m getting from this folderol is that this is yet another case of last-minute trolling that Obama left for his successor to clean up. And of course reverting to the state of affairs circa 2015 is literally worse than Hitler.

  10. If trannies get to se4ve, so do type 1 diabetics. That’s only fair.

    1. That’s something people don’t seem to understand or know. There are many conditions that can forbid you from serving.

      Of course, draft dodgers once could claim they were gay to avoid being drafted. Be careful what you ask for.

      I’m not opposed to gays or transgender serving. I don’t think you should be able to trans while on active duty. And if there is something that requires on going medical maintenance that could be life threatening, then no. Like needing insulin as an example.

      1. I’m definitely opposed to TG’s serving. So many problems, physical and mental. And so many other groups disqualified that come with far less baggage.

        Their advocacy groups spent decades trying to be declared a protected class under the Americans With Disavilites Act. So they go from that to suddenly being fit for service?

        Fuck that.

  11. I don’t think they have standing to sue until an action is taken against them.

    1. Certainly true of pre-op trans men anyway.

      1. Post-op “trans men” in the military should be treated the same way as any other serviceman who cut his dick off.

  12. On what basis is the ACLU planning on suing? There is absolutely no right to serve in the military.

    1. Not that I’m not 100% in agreement with you but, there is a contract and a code of conduct being altered mid contract, I would think it only requires one soldier to be complaining about a vehicle’s transmission in the presence of a transgendered soldier in order for grounds to suddenly exist. Hell, at this point, it almost seems like something other than the precise Goldilocks amount of glancing/staring at somebody else’s genitals is a hostile act.

    2. You mean people don’t have an inherent right to go to the ME and kill people?


      1. You mean people don’t have an inherent right to get trained, armed, and paid go to the ME and kill people?


        Nobody’s denying me my right to travel to the ME and kill people, but I guess that’s because I’m not transgendered.

  13. Has there been an actual executive directive on this? Or have we forgotten that tweets are not executive actions carrying any legal authority…

    1. It’s a preemptive lawsuit. Preemptive is all the rage these days.

  14. Please tell me this is fake news. Really? An actual lawsuit to reverse a tweet?

  15. Let a thousand transgendered bloom.

    1. Let a thousand gender bloom. Last counting only 27 were blooming.

  16. Reason has so lost its way. I guess the blowjobs at the cocktail parties are worth it.

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