A soldier based in Washington state and two young men who hope to enlist are among those challenging President Donald Trump's ban on transgender people joining the military.
The three joined the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign and the Gender Justice League, a Washington state gay rights group, in suing the government in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Monday. They argue that ban violates the equal protection, due process and free speech guarantees of the Constitution.
The ACLU filed a separate case in Maryland Monday on behalf of several service members who are transgender.
Two plaintiffs are Ryan Karnoski, a 22-year-old transgender man who lives in Seattle, and a transgender high school student from Corpus Christi, Texas.
The other is 33-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Cathrine Schmid, who has served for more than 12 years and is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of the city.
“I think the waiting was killing me more than anything,” Schmid said after the lawsuit was filed. For months, Schmid has been imagining the worst: immediate discharge from the Army because she is transgender.
Trump directed the Pentagon on Friday to implement the ban on transgender individuals joining the military, which he first announced in a tweet. He also gave to the Pentagon the authority to decide the future of openly transgender people already serving and stop using federal money for gender-reassignment surgery.
“That we aren't capable of doing the job because we're going to break down and have an existential crisis in the middle of a fire fight -- that's just ridiculous,” Schmid said, explaining she has been waiting for authorization for more than a year for the final surgery.
Also put on hold: an application she submitted in June to become a warrant officer. The lawsuit says “the military’s current accessions bar not only excludes transgender individuals from enlistment but also from appointment as officers, even when an individual is already serving in the military.”
“The policy is effectively reverting back to what it was pre-2016,” Schmid said, explaining she doesn’t want to go back to that period in time. “To maintain a level of performance as everyone else while receiving a level of scrutiny that was 10 times higher. You have to make sure you’re meeting every single requirement to the extreme. So I worried for a year that my bootlace had come untied and I would be kicked out for it. Examination of my finger nail length every day -- not because they were out of regulation, but because somebody at some point thought they saw nail police on them. All it takes is the accusation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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