December 10, 2018
Lauren Gray, NCLR lgray@nclrights.org / (215) 983-3099
Amanda Johnston, GLAD ajohnston@glad.org / (617) 417-7769

Transgender Military Ban Plaintiffs Argue in DC Circuit Court of Appeals Today to Keep Preliminary Injunction

Washington, DC—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments today in Doe v. Trump—the first legal challenge filed in opposition to Trump’s transgender military ban—brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi presented arguments on behalf of plaintiffs, urging the court to keep Doe’s preliminary injunction in place, which prevents implementation of Trump’s transgender military ban while the case is being heard in court.

There are four lawsuits challenging the ban, and all four federal judges in these cases have issued nationwide preliminary injunctions blocking it. In issuing those orders, the courts each determined that the plaintiffs challenging the ban—including current servicemembers, ROTC, military academy students, and enlistees—would likely prevail on their claim that the ban violates their constitutional guarantee of equal protection. Today’s argument concerned the government’s appeal of D.C. federal district court judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s forceful denial of its request to dissolve her injunction after the administration released its implementation plan for the ban in March. Judge Kollar-Kotelly reiterated her finding that there has been no change in circumstances to invalidate the injunction in a November 30 ruling denying the government’s subsequent request for a stay while the Supreme Court considers its application for cert before judgment.

“The government is playing word games by arguing that transgender people can serve in their birth sex. That is a contradiction in terms,” said GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi.“ This is not a game. What’s at stake here is the lives of dedicated servicemembers, who are willing and able to serve—and are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”

“Throughout this case, I have been privileged to meet and represent courageous young people who want nothing more than to meet the military’s high standards and to serve their country,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “Instead, they have been swept up in a discriminatory political firestorm that has nothing to do with either what’s best for the military or their ability to serve. Their futures and who we are as a country are at stake.”

For more information, go to NCLR and GLAD’s website outlining the history and status of the Trump-Pence transgender military ban at https://notransmilitaryban.org/.


June 30, 2016: The United States Department of Defense (DOD) adopted a policy permitting transgender people to serve in the military based on a nearly two year DOD review determining that there was no valid reason to exclude qualified personnel from military service simply because they are transgender.

July 26, 2017: President Trump tweeted that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

August 9, 2017: NCLR and GLAD filed Doe v. Trump, the first lawsuit filed to stop the ban, challenging its constitutionality and requesting that the court issue a nationwide preliminary injunction to stop it from taking effect while the case is being heard in court.

August 25, 2017: President Trump issued a memorandum ordering Secretary of Defense James Mattis to submit “a plan for implementing” the ban by February 21, 2018. Secretary Mattis delivered this (the “Mattis Plan” and panel report) to President Trump on February 22, 2018.

October 30, 2017: The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Doe v. Trump plaintiffs had established a likelihood of success on their claim that President Trump’s ban violates equal protection, that plaintiffs would be irreparably harmed without a preliminary injunction to stop the ban, and that the public interest and balance of hardships weighed in favor of granting injunctive relief and temporarily halting the ban while the case is heard by the court.

March 23, 2018: President Trump accepts the “Mattis Plan” and issues a memorandum in which he “revoked” his August 25 Memorandum.

April 20, 2018: Defendants file a motion to dissolve the October 30 nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the transgender military ban issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint; and a Motion for Summary Judgment.

May 11, 2018: Plaintiffs file their cross-motion for summary judgment, as well as motions in opposition to Defendant’s motions to dissolve the injunction and dismiss Plaintiffs’ complaint.

August 6, 2018: Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly denies Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Dissolve the Preliminary Injunction.

August 27, 2018: Defendants filed a notice of appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals of Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s denial of their motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of the transgender military ban.

September 21, 2018: The Defendants-Appellants filed their opening brief in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

October 22, 2018: Plaintiffs-Appellees filed their opposition to Defendants’ appeal, asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to leave in place the preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the transgender military ban.

October 29, 2018: A wide array of former military leaders, veterans’ and civil rights organizations, women’s groups, military scholars and historians, and states went on record opposing President Trump’s ongoing efforts to exclude transgender people from military service, in thirteen friend-of-the-court briefs filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

November 23, 2018: The Trump administration filed petitions for cert before judgment in Doe v. Trump, Stockman v. Trump, and Karnoski v. Trump.

November 30, 2018: Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly forcefully denied the Trump administration’s motion to stay her preliminary injunction while the administration seeks cert from the Supreme Court.

NCLR and GLAD have been at the center of the legal fight challenging the Trump-Pence transgender military ban since filing Doe v. Trump, the first of four cases filed against the ban, on August 9, 2017.


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 orientationwww.GLAD.org

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) was the first national LGBTQ legal organization founded by women and brings a fierce, longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and our community’s most vulnerable. Since 1977, we have been at the forefront of advancing the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people and their families through impact litigation, public policy, and public education. Decades ago, NCLR launched the first LGBTQ Immigration Project, Transgender Rights Project, Youth Project, Elder Law Project, and began working to end conversion therapy through what is now our Born Perfect campaign. www.nclrights.org