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LGBT advocacy groups file lawsuit against Trump over transgender troop ban

Two LGBT advocacy groups sued President Donald Trump in federal court on Wednesday, August 9 over his tweets that the Pentagon would reinstate a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.

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. Each of the five military personnel are listed as “Jane Doe” on the complaint.

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

In a series of tweets on July 26, Trump said, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump concluded.

The advocacy groups said the White House was unable to field basic inquiries, such as to how the ban on transgender military personnel would be carried out, or what would happen to transgender people on active duty.

The only initial acknowledgement came from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said, “That’s something that the Department of Defense and the White House will have to work together as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully.”

A Pentagon spokesman told the Los Angeles Times the day of Trump’s tweets that the statement was considered “guidance rather than an order from the commander-in-chief.”

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The NLCR’s legal director, Shannon Minter said on Wednesday that Trump’s tweets were causing a “tidal wave of harms” for those service members serving openly.

One of the plaintiffs stated, “I am married and have three children, and the military has been my life. But now, I’m worried about my family’s future.”

According to the highest estimate of active-duty transgender U.S. troops, around 16,000 people will be impacted if Trump’s ban is enforced.

Trump said the medical costs associated with having transgender service members in the U.S. military would be “tremendous” and a burden.

A 2016 Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Pentagon found that medical costs for transgender service members would be “relatively minor,” and that “transgender people had served without disruption for years.”

While no ban has been implemented at this time, the White House has said that it would work with the Defense Department to ensure any such policy is in accordance with the law. So far, the White House has not given the Pentagon any formal directives on a new personnel policy, which may hinder the proceedings of the lawsuit.

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