Karnoski v. Trump

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Plaintiffs in Karnoski v. Trump
Status: Open
Court:
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
Issues: Military, Transgender Rights

Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s ban on military service by transgender individuals. The lawsuit—brought in response to President Trump’s formal issuance of directions to military authorities late Friday—six currently serving members of the armed services; three who seek to enlist; the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization; Gender Justice League, a gender and sexuality civil and human rights organization, headquartered in Seattle; and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA).

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The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The individual plaintiffs, all of whom are transgender, include:

  • Staff Sergeant Cathrine (“Katie”) Schmid, a 33-year-old woman and 12-year member of the U.S. Army currently serving in Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, who has applied to become an Army Warrant Officer;
  • Petty Officer First Class Terece Lewis, a 33-year-old woman and 14-year member of the U.S. Navy serving on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis out of Bremerton, Washington;
  • Chief Warrant Officer Lindsey Muller, a 35-year-old woman and 17-year member of the U.S. Army serving at Camp Humphreys near Seoul, South Korea;
  • Petty Officer Second Class Phillip Stephens, a 29-year-old man and five-year member of the U.S. Navy serving at Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Florida;
  • Petty Officer Second Class Megan Winters, a 29-year-old woman and five-year member of the U.S. Navy serving in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C.;
  • Ryan Karnoski, a 22-year-old Seattle man who currently works as a social worker and wishes to become an officer doing social work for the military;
  • Conner Callahan, a 29-year-old man who currently works in law enforcement in North Carolina;
  • Drew Layne, a high-school student from Corpus Christi, Texas, who is 17 years old and, with parental support, wants to join the Air Force; and
  • A ninth individual currently serving in the military who remains anonymous.

The government-commissioned RAND study released in May 2016 determined that the cost of providing transition-related care is exceedingly small relative to U.S. Armed Forces overall health care expenditures, that there are no readiness implications that prevent transgender members from serving openly, and that numerous foreign militaries have successfully permitted open service without a negative effect on effectiveness, readiness or unit cohesion. Based on that study, the Pentagon lifted the ban on open service by transgender men and women in July 2016.

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