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    Advocacy groups sue Trump over proposed transgender military ban

    President Trump adjusts his suit jacket before bestowing the nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor to retired Army medic James McCloughan during a ceremony in the East Room of the White (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
    President Trump adjusts his suit jacket before bestowing the nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor to retired Army medic James McCloughan during a ceremony in the East Room of the White (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

    Two advocacy groups sued President Trump in federal court Wednesday over his declaration on Twitter last month that the Pentagon would a reinstate a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.

    So far, the armed services have not implemented a ban or moved to discharge anyone, saying that it is awaiting guidance from the White House through formal channels rather than on Twitter.

    The National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia on behalf of five transgender service members who have collectively served for decades in multiple branches of the military.

    The lawsuit claims Trump’s ban would violate the equal protection and the due process clauses in the Bill of Rights. 

    Trump blindsided the Pentagon on July 26 when he wrote on Twitter that the government would not “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”

    After a lengthy internal review, the Defense Department lifted the longstanding ban last year and allowed transgender people to serve openly in all branches of the military, and to seek hormone treatment and other procedures at military hospitals.

    The president said in his Twitter posts that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruptions” of transgender people in the armed service.

    A Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Pentagon determined that the medical costs would be relatively minor, and that transgender people had served without disruption for years. 

    The Pentagon does not count self-declared transgender personnel, but outside groups have estimated that 1,300 to 16,000 members of the military could be affected by a ban.

    Pentagon spokesman told the Los Angeles Times the day of Trump’s tweets that they were considered "guidance rather than an order from the commander-in-chief."

    But Shannon Minter, lesbian rights center's legal director, said in a statement Wednesday that Trump's tweets caused a “tidal wave of harms” for transgender service members serving openly, and that many were “scrambling to deal with what it means for their future and their families.”

    The proposed ban was met with considerable bipartisan disagreement from Congress, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Large technology corporations, including Google, Apple and Facebook, and some high-profile celebrities, including Caitlyn Jenner, also publicly denounced the ban.

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