Five transgender soldiers with almost 60 years of combined service are suing President Trump over his plan to ban transgender people from the U.S. military.
The suit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders, charges the president's tweets announcing the ban violates the Equal Protection component of the Due Process clauses of the Fifth Amendment.
"The categorical exclusion of transgender people from military service lacks a rational basis, is arbitrary, and cannot be justified by sufficient federal interests," the complaint argues.
The plaintiffs are listed only as Jane Doe 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
In making his announcement on Twitter, President Trump declared that he had consulted with "generals and military experts."
However, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford issued a statement the following day saying the policy won't be changed until the White House issues official new "guidance."
“Last year, the Department of Defense announced that transgender people could serve openly,” said one plaintiff in a statement released by the NCLR. “I was very relieved and came out as transgender to my commanding officers, who were supportive. My experience has been positive and I am prouder than ever to continue to serve."
Response from the military's rank and file has been mixed.
In a July letter to President Trump, 16 retired flag-rank officers commended him for his "extremely courageous" decision to reverse President Obama's "transgender social experiment" in the military.
Their letter concluded by stating that the transgender ban would help preserve "military effectiveness, morale and social cohesion."
However, the commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, said that transender people would still be welcome to serve under him despite Trump's tweets -- adding that he reached out to 13 Coast Guard members who currently serve under him.
“That is the commitment to our people right now,” Zukunft told the Times. “Very small numbers, but all of them are doing meaningful Coast Guard work today.”
Shannon Minter, a transgender legal expert and NCLR legal director, said that the ban was already having a detrimental impact on transgender soldiers.
“Trump’s directive to exclude transgender people from military service has created a tidal wave of harms that have already been felt throughout our armed services. Transgender service members have been blindsided by this shift and are scrambling to deal with what it means for their futures and their families,” said Minter in a statement.