Lambda Legal Applauds as President Biden Rescinds Transgender Military Ban

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January 25, 2021

President Biden honored a commitment he made during the 2020 campaign and announced the rescission of the discriminatory ban on open military service by transgender people. Lambda Legal and Modern Military Association of America (MMAA) have been fighting for three years to block the ban, filing a lawsuit more than three years ago on behalf six currently serving servicemembers, two transgender clients seeking to enlist, and three organizational plaintiffs, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), American Military Partner Association (AMPA), and Gender Justice League (GJL), The State of Washington also joined the lawsuit.

“This is a significant and hopeful moment for our country.  Over the last 3 years, we've fought to prove that transgender people are not a burden, a hindrance, or a distraction – we are an equal and contributing part of this society just as much as any other group, and this development vindicates that basic principle” said Staff Sergeant Cathrine (Katie) Schmid, a 15-year active servicemember of the U.S. Army. “This isn't simply about our place in the military, or my place in my unit.  It’s about our right to be treated as co-equal members of society.  This harmful and backwards policy will now be put where it belongs: in a very short, shameful chapter of US military history.”

“We look forward to turning the page on this dark chapter of our history and returning to the day when transgender people can once again serve their country openly, proudly, and equally. This ban was a low-water mark for our country, which defied the military’s own judgment permitting open service, and its reversal marks a recommitment to our country’s most basic promise of equality for all,” Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings said. “This discriminatory ban cheapened the bravery and patriotism of transgender service members and transgender people seeking to serve. We are grateful to see President Biden take action to relegate it to the trash bin of history, where it belongs.”

“We are grateful that President Biden has kept his promise and reversed this discriminatory and backwards policy, which was a stain on the military for over three years. The ban was harmful to military readiness and morale as much as it harmed transgender people who are serving and who want to serve. We look forward to full implementation of new regulations that put transgender people on equal footing with their cisgender counterparts and evaluates all servicemembers based on ability, without regard to gender identity,” said Peter Perkowski, Legal & Policy Director of the Modern Military Association of America, an organizational plaintiff in the suit under the name American Military Partner Association.

The Lambda Legal attorneys working on the case are: Peter Renn, Diana Flynn, Camilla B. Taylor, Tara Borelli, Paul Castillo, Sasha Buchert, Carl Charles and Kara Ingelhart. They are joined by co-counsel Peter Perkowski of MMAA. Also on the legal team are pro-bono co-counsel at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Newman Du Wors LLP.