14 states join in fight against Trump’s military transgender ban

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia are joining the pushback against President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender troops in the military.

The states, which mostly trend on the liberal side, filed an amicus brief Oct. 16 stating the ban on transgender people in the military is irrational and unconstitutional.

Amicus briefs are filed on behalf of a plaintiff by parties with an interest in the case. This particular case, Doe vs. Trump, is one of four filed against the executive branch over the ban.

The states, which include Maryland, Pennsylvania, California, Iowa, New Mexico and others, claim the ban will harm the states and their residents.

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“All States play important roles — both direct and indirect — in providing for our collective security and have an interest in ensuring the strongest, most inclusive military possible. We also share an interest in avoiding becoming entangled in discriminatory federal policies. The administration’s decision to reinstitute a ban on open service by transgender individuals harms all of these interests. It also harms the Amici States’ veterans, active service members, and those who wish to serve, and our transgender communities more broadly,” the brief stated.

The states contend that the transgender ban will require the states to undo the inclusive environment they have established in the National Guard of each state. The states also claim taking talented transgender troops from the ranks will create direct and significant harm to the states.

The amicus brief also states the transgender ban will take discrimination past the military. The states argue that maritime academies in states like Massachusetts, California and New York and will keep transgender students from joining ROTC to receive scholarships.

Finally, the brief stated that the transgender ban has the potential to harm active-duty and veteran service members because they came out with the understanding there would be no repercussions.

“Many service members in the National Guard and other branches of the military came out as transgender to their command based upon that assurance, believing that they would not thereby be deprived of their opportunity to serve (or their livelihoods). The Trump Administration has broken that promise to the grave detriment of these individuals. Openly transgender service members may now be targeted for discharge or other adverse action,” the brief stated.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration urged the district court to drop the Doe v. Trump case because the challenge is “premature.” The motion stated the Defense Department still does not have an official policy on transgender people serving in the military. Furthermore, the interim policy released by DoD on Sept. 14 does not separate or deny reenlistment to any transgender individuals serving in the military. Transgender troops are also provided medical treatment under the current policy.

National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders refuted the White House claim stating the interim guidance merely attempts to “paper over the wreckage caused by the ban” and fails to address the significant harms already put in motion.

The military was asked by the White House to “develop a study and implementation plan, which will contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law” with the transgender troop ban.

DoD issued its interim policy in September, basically holding the status quo until the review is finished.

What more Defense Secretary James Mattis will get out of the process remains to be seen, Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center said.

“It’s never bad to have more information, but that having been said, the topic has already been studied to death and every study has come up with the same conclusion, which is that inclusive policy for LGBT troops promotes readiness. If Secretary Mattis undertakes a fair and comprehensive process, he will reach the same conclusion as every other researcher,” Belkin said.

Two of the most recent and widely circulated studies on the cost and effect of transgender troops in the military come from the RAND Corporation and the New England Journal of Medicine.

The RAND study stated the cost of keeping transgender individuals and new recruits in the military is estimated to cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually in total.

The New England Journal of Medicine study, which was conducted by Belkin, stated the provision of transition-related care will cost the military $5.6 million annually, or 22 cents per [military] member per month.

The military would also lose its investment in the transgender troops it’s already trained, some of which include pilots, doctors and other positions DoD is short on.