A transgender service member at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and two transgender people who want to join the military are among those suing President Trump in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Share story

The Seattle-based Gender Justice League and several local transgender people who either want to join the military or who currently serve in the armed forces have filed a lawsuit in federal court, according to a news release Monday.

According to the statement released by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, the federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on behalf of the Seattle civil rights organization and several transgender plaintiffs. The plaintiffs include: Ryan Karnoski, a 22-year-old Seattle social worker who wants to become a military officer; Cathrine “Katie” Schmid, a 33-year-old Army staff sergeant at Joint Base Lewis-McChord who has applied to become a warrant officer; and Drew Layne, a 17-year-old high-school student from Texas who wants to join the Air Force.

Related stories

One soldier’s experience

“Gender Justice League has been fighting on behalf of transgender people for the dignity that all people deserve,” said Danni Askini, executive director of the Seattle-based gender, sexuality and human-rights organization. “At a time when transgender people are facing alarming rates of discrimination, violence and lack of access to housing and medical care, this blatantly discriminatory ban is a slap in the face to our members.”

Askini said, “We have made strides in Washington state to put this kind of government sanctioned discrimination behind us. This ban stands against our state’s values that all Washingtonians deserve the same rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.”

The suit filed in Western Washington is one of two filed by civil-rights groups in response to President Donald Trump’s recent ban on transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military. The second lawsuit was filed in Baltimore federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of six transgender people serving in several branches of the military.

Both lawsuits say the ban violates the nation’s constitutional guarantee of equal protection and due process under the Fifth Amendment. The White House has declined to comment on the pending litigation, according to the Reuters news agency.

Trump announced his intention to seek the ban in a series of Twitter posts July 26, in which he said he would reverse his predecessor’s effort to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Trump claimed that having transgender people serving in the armed forces was medically expensive and disruptive.

“President Trump cast aside the rigorous, evidence-based policy of the Open Service Directive, and replaced it with discredited myths and stereotypes, uninformed speculation, and animus against people who are transgender,” the ACLU lawsuit reads.

According to the news statement, a RAND Corp. study found that out of 1.3 million service members, an estimated 1,320 to 6,630 active-duty personnel are transgender.