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NH Mom Cheers Lawsuits Challenging Transgender Military Ban

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A Derry mom says her 12-year-old son could someday be affected by President Trump's sudden ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military. (A. Valiente)
A Derry mom says her 12-year-old son could someday be affected by President Trump's sudden ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military. (A. Valiente)
 By Mike CliffordContact
August 30, 2017

DERRY, N.H. - One New Hampshire mom is cheering on the civil-rights groups that filed lawsuits this week to block President Trump's ban on military service by transgender people.

The presidential directive issued Friday bars transgender individuals from enlisting, and bans those already in the military from further service. One federal lawsuit was filed in Seattle on behalf of two people who want to enlist and one who's already serving; another was filed in Maryland on behalf of six transgender service members.

"My son is one of the strongest people I know," said Andrea Valiante, a teacher who lives in Derry and is raising a 12-year-old transgender son. "If anyone is brave enough to serve in the military and defend our country, and they are trans, you've got somebody who is 'doubly strong,' as far as I am concerned."

In a series of tweets sent in late July, Trump said the military "cannot be burdened by the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."

The lawsuits were filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe SLDN. Matt Thorn, OutServe's executive director, noted that a 2016 Rand study showed the medical costs of allowing transgender people to serve openly would be relatively small, and their service would not affect military readiness. He added that reversing the policy of acceptance would be unprecedented.

"Once DOD has made changes in its personnel policy, they've never reverted back on it," Thorn said. "So, this is a history-making decision on the president's part. They've never gone back on policies once they've been implemented."

Valiante said she was taken aback by Trump's anti-trans tweets but encouraged to see that the military brass didn't follow along.

"That was a hard day, but I was excited to see the others come around," she said. "Those leaders, they really understand what is expected from their people, so I believe that their message is very powerful."

Estimates of the number of transgender people on active duty in the military range from about 1,300 to almost 9,000.

One of the lawsuits is online at lambdalegal.org.

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