Amanda Johnston, GLAD ajohnston@glad.org / (617) 417-7769
Christopher Vasquez, NCLR cvasquez@nclrights.org / (415) 365 -1337

March 18, 2020

 Naval Officer Files New Challenge to Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

Doe v. Esper is the first challenge to be filed since the transgender military ban went into effect

BOSTON, MA —Jane Doe, an officer in the U.S. Navy who has served two extended tours of duty over nine years and is now facing involuntary discharge because she is transgender, has filed suit challenging the transgender military ban. The case, Doe v. Esper, filed in federal district court in Massachusetts, is the first challenge to the ban since it went into effect in April 2019. Doe, a dedicated, highly qualified and successful officer, is seeking emergency relief so she can continue to serve. Four other cases seeking to overturn the transgender military ban broadly are currently pending in federal court.

“Our plaintiff is the first transgender service member to seek emergency relief since the ban went into effect,” said Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project Director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “As an experienced officer, all she seeks is the ability to continue serving her country on the same terms as others. The Navy has invested nearly a decade in her training, and she is committed to serving for years to come. It destabilizes and debases our military to discharge Doe and other, highly qualified people under a politically motivated policy that has no basis in anything other than bias. Our current national emergency is a reminder, if we needed any, how critically important it is that the institutions upon which we all rely make decisions based on evidence and competency.”

“Our plaintiff’s situation highlights the serious harms the ban is causing to dedicated service members and to the military,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). “The current policy mandates the discharge of any transgender service member, without regard for their fitness or value to the military, and even when replacing them would be extremely costly and disruptive. We are asking the court to prevent this senseless result for our client so that she can continue to use her years of training and expertise to benefit our country.”

Doe came out as transgender after the ban went into effect in April 2019. She is not protected by the “grandfather clause” that permits continued military service by transgender troops who came out before the ban. The current policy mandates the discharge of any service member who comes out as transgender and seeks to undergo a gender transition.

Jane Doe is represented by GLAD and NCLR, which have been at the center of the legal fight challenging the transgender military ban since filing Doe v. Trump, the first of four initial cases filed against the ban, on August 9, 2017In addition to Doe v. Esper and Doe v. Trump, GLAD and NCLR also represent plaintiffs in a third case challenging the ban, Stockman v. Trump. For more information visit www.notransmilitaryban.org


Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. www.GLAD.org

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org