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posted Friday, September 1, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 35
Pentagon puts Trans ban on hold as Trans service members sue Trump
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Pentagon puts Trans ban on hold as Trans service members sue Trump

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on August 29 that he will not implement Donald Trump's order barring Transgender people from serving in the military until a Pentagon panel studies the issue and reports back.

'Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the President concerning implementation of his policy direction,' Mattis said in the statement. 'In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.'

The additional study will lead the Pentagon to determine if it will allow thousands of Transgender troops to continue to serve or how they will be discharged, and whether they will receive medical transition services.

Trump first announced his new policy in a series of tweets on July 26. On August 25, Trump followed up with a formal memorandum ordering the Pentagon to terminate the service of Trans personnel.

Meanwhile, at least two federal lawsuits have been filed by Trans service members seeking to block Trump's orders from going into effect.

The ACLU filed suit on August 28 on behalf of five Transgender service members. The suit argues that Trump's ban is unconstitutional and discriminatory. The ACLU has hired powerful DC law firm Covington and Burling to represent the plaintiffs.

In a second suit, Lambda Legal, OutServe-SLDN, the HRC, and Seattle's Gender Justice League filed suit on behalf of two Transgender people who want to join the military and one currently serving in the Army at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). The second lawsuit also raised constitutional concerns.

'The law is on our side; justice is on our side,' said Peter Perkowski, legal director for OutServe-SLDN. 'Trump can't tweet his way out of this one.'

Cathrine Schmid, one of the plaintiffs and a staff sergeant at JBLM, told the Seattle Times that she believes it is her duty as a Transgender person and a soldier to speak up when she sees something that appears to be unlawful.

'If I received an unlawful order from someone over me,' Schmid said, 'it would be my responsibility to step forward and say, 'Sir or ma'am, is this really what you want me to do?'

Schmid has already served more than 12 years in the Army, and has been stationed in Germany, South Korea, and Iraq. She received medals, advanced in rank, and has applied to become a warrant officer, she said.

'I love this job, serving this country and being a soldier,' she said.

Another local plaintiff is Ryan Karnoski, who wants to become an officer doing social work for the military. Gender Justice League Executive Director Danni Askini said her organization has received hundreds of calls from Trans military personnel, or Trans people who wish to serve in the armed forces.

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