On August 8, 2017, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) filed Doe v. Trump, a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging President Trump’s directive to reinstate a ban on transgender people serving in the military. As GLAD reports, the suit was filed on behalf of 5 transgender service members with nearly 60 years of combined military service.
This is an initial complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Plaintiffs, Jane Doe 1 to Jane Doe 5, request declaratory and injunctive relief from Defendants, Donald J. Trump in his official capacity as President of the United States; James N. Mattis in his official capacity as Secretary of Defense; Joseph F. Dunford in his official capacity as Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff; the U.S. Department of the Army; Ryan d. McCarthy in his official capacity as Secretary of the Army; U.S. Department of the Air Force; Heather A. Wilson in her official capacity as Secretary of the Air Force; the U.S. Coast Guard; Elaine C. Duke in her official capacity as Secretary of Homeland Security; and the United States of America.
1. Plaintiffs seek relief under the Equal Protection clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Plaintiffs first allege that President Trump’s Twitter directive excludes transgender people from military service on the basis of sex and transgender status and such discrimination cannot meet rational basis scrutiny.
Plaintiffs also allege that the Twitter directive deprives plaintiffs of property and liberty interests, namely the interest in “serving in the military as openly transgender servicemembers’ pursuant to the Department of Defense’s June 2016 policy permitting such open service.
2. Plaintiffs seek that Defendants are prevented from rescinding the rights granted under the June 2016 policy under the doctrine of equitable estoppel, or detrimental reliance.
Plaintiffs state that they declared their status as transgender to commanding officers under the June 2016 policy promise that they would not be discharged or otherwise separated from the military because of this status. Further, plaintiffs have “undergone medical treatment for the purpose of gender transition” in reliance on this policy.