ACLU Sues Trump Over Military Transgender Ban

(CN) – The American Civil Liberties Union sued President Donald Trump on Monday over his decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military.

In a 39-page federal complaint filed on behalf of six military service members in Maryland, the ACLU claims the ban, which Trump originally tried to mandate by  tweet, violates the Fifth Amendment and is simply invalid on its face.

“The Trump administration has provided no evidence that this announcement was based on any analysis of the actual cost and disruption allegedly caused by allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly,” says the complaint, which is illustrated with screen shots of the president’s Twitter feed.

Service members who are transgender were “immediately injured by the stigma created by the Transgender Service Member Ban,” the ACLU continues. “Even if permitted to serve beyond the ban’s cutoff date on March 23, 2018, they are now left to feel ‘unwanted and unwelcome and that their medical care will be withheld.’”

This second class status, the ACLU says, coupled with the ban on necessary medical care, violates promises already guaranteed to other non-transgender service members.

“Many of the same or substantially equivalent surgical procedures banned by the Transgender Service Member Ban are covered by the military when used to treat other serious medical conditions. The [ban] singles out transgender service members for different treatment by denying them coverage for medically necessary care that is inherently related to their transgender status and gender nonconformity,” the complaint said.

Trump initially issued the ban via Twitter on July 26, saying the high cost of care for transgender military members was prohibitive. But the complaint says there is simply no basis for this claim.

A recent report from the RAND Corporation appears to bolster the ACLU’s position.

“Even in the most extreme scenario that we are able to identify using the private health insurance date, we expect only a .13 percent ($8.4 million out of $6.2 billion) increase in [active component] health care spending,” the report said.

By contrast, the ACLU says, total military spending on erectile dysfunction medicines amount to $84 million annually – ten times the cost of annual transition related medical care for active duty transgender service members.

Trump announced the formal start of the process to ban transgender individuals from the military Friday night, as Hurricane Harvey bore down on the Texas coast. In a two-and-a-half page order, the president directed Secretary of Defense James Mattis to return to the pre-2016 policy of banning service by men and women who are transgender.

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