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LGBTQ groups respond to first moves in transgender military ban lawsuit

Payton McGarry prepared for a military career but has seen that dream repeatedly frustrated.

This week the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss Doe v. Trump, the first of four lawsuits that attempt to stop transgender people from being banned from the U.S. Military.

In the motion, department claims that no transgender people have yet suffered under the new policy that prohibits their service

As Policy Watch has reported previously, however, there are plenty of North Carolinians whose lives stand as proof against that notion — including Greensboro’s Payton McGarry, who is unable to enlist under the ban.

North Carolina is third in the nation for the number of active military personnel, behind only the much larger states of Texas and California.

The National Center for Lesbian Right and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) had a scathing response to the government’s motion this week, saying transgender people now serving in the military have been “demeaned and stigmatized, denied health care, and are facing the loss of their professions, livelihoods, health care, and the post-military retirement they have worked hard to earn.”

From the groups’ statement:

“The government’s response reads like pure fiction,” said Jennifer Levi, Director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project.  “It states a fantasy that the President’s announcement of a ban on military service for transgender people has changed nothing.  That’s simply not true.  Every day this reckless ban stays in place, our military strength is diminished and our country is less safe for it.  We are optimistic the Court will see through this smokescreen and halt the ban.”

“The President’s attack on transgender service members who have dedicated their lives to serving our country is unconscionable. Rather than even attempting to defend it, the DOJ is asking the court to turn a blind eye to the devastation the President has caused in the lives of real people and real families,” said Shannon Minter, NCLR’s Legal Director. “Because of the President’s ban, smart, dedicated, and idealistic young people like our plaintiffs Regan Kibby and Dylan Kohere are barred from fulfilling their dreams of military service.  And transgender people who are already serving have been told that their skills, training, and years of dedicated service are not valued. The ban has left them scrambling to make new plans for their futures, just as it has undermined our nation’s security. This is the exact opposite of how military policy should be made.”

Former and current military leaders strongly oppose the ban. Just last week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, Jr. said that anyone who meets the high standards of the military should be able to serve. Six former military leaders have lent their voices in Doe v. Trump and other legal cases against the ban, including former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, the only person to hold senior leadership roles in each of the three military departments and who led the Army during the year-long review of the military’s policy toward transgender service members, and retired Admiral and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen. Some of the nation’s most senior military leaders have expressed their strong concern about the negative effects of Trump’s ban on military readiness, national security, and morale.

In the coming months, as this controversy continues to unfold, Policy Watch will continue covering the issue and will be presenting stories wherein transgender service members in North Carolina tell stories of what the ban means for them and their service.

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