Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the proposed ban on open military service by transgender people in August 2017, following President Trump’s tweets in July announcing imposition of the ban, and, in late August, issuance of a proposed implementation plan.

Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN represent nine individual plaintiffs who are all transgender – six currently serving members of the U.S. Armed Services and three individuals who wish to enlist – and three organizational plaintiffs, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and American Military Partner Association (AMPA). The State of Washington joined the lawsuit last November.


EDIT: Thanks everyone for your thoughtful questions and support! It's now 2:15PM and we're signing off. Keep up on the case updates at Lambda Legal's Twitter: @lambdalegal

Comments: 2030 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

Megtownxx675 karma

Hi Katie, How do you and your unit approach physical performance standards such as the PT test and how do you feel about the topic as a whole? Should you be assessed differently whether or not a trans person is on hormones or not?

lambdalegal1230 karma

The PT standards depend on the DEERS marker. (personnel record) Nobody is getting their DEERS marker changed without having been on hormones for a long period of time. By then, all the changes to muscle mass, bone density, etc have all happened.

As far as my personal feelings, I think DOD made the right choice there. It's a long, arduous process to get your DEERS marker changed, and this prevents people from abusing the system. Nobody can just "decide" that they're going to follow the female standards now.

dog_in_the_vent622 karma

How does the transition between genders affect your deployment status? Are you still able to deploy while undergoing gender reassignment?

lambdalegal1441 karma

This is a really big misconception. Anybody who starts a new medication (including hormones) is non-deployable for 90 days. After that, you go back to deployable status.

If you have any type of surgery, then your non-deployable time depends on how long it takes you to recover from your surgery, and what your doctor recommends.

In short, it isn't as big a deal as people make it out to be.

waxy_cucumber569 karma

  1. How often do people misgender you?
  2. Have you experienced any hazing? Sexual harassment?
  3. Have you developed any valuable friendships?
  4. How old were you when you decided you wanted to join the military? Why did you?

*Thank you for posting this, I can already see you enduring a lot of terrible comments here. You are very thick-skinned to endure that with the positivity you have.

lambdalegal733 karma

  1. Not often, honestly.
  2. At first, before we had equal opportunity protections, I received a lot of undue scrutiny. Since the 2016 policy change, it's been a lot better.
  3. Absolutely. Both with my fellow transgender service members and with the other women in my unit.
  4. My dad was in the Air Force, so it was always kind of a thing. And why did I? Because college didn't work out and I needed a career.

CBR85511 karma

How do other soldiers (I know you cannot speak for all of them) perceive your service, as opposed to those at the top?

lambdalegal1145 karma

My service, I think, speaks for itself. When other soldiers are looking at me, they're not seeing "a trans soldier", they're seeing a Staff Sergeant. And that's really what matters.

Chtorrr504 karma

What would you most like to tell us that no one has asked about?

lambdalegal1016 karma

David Gerrold promised us a fourth book in the Chtorr series and hasn't delivered.

1nejust1c3377 karma

Why do you think so many people in the thread are trying to conflate the issue of the military paying for transition-related medical costs with the competency of transgender people being able to perform military duties?

It seems to me that these are entirely separate issues, and that others are incorrectly dismissing your ability to perform your duties purely because they don't want their tax dollars being spent on transitions. What would your response to these people be?

lambdalegal886 karma

It's called "moving the goalposts". They make the accusation that it's prohibitively expensive, then when they're shown it's not, they make the accusation that I'm incapable of my duties. Then, when they're shown I'm not, they move back to the spending argument.

Kandlen279 karma

I have read the policy letter from the end of March. I'm a little confused because there had been no guidance. Has the ban changed anything yet?

lambdalegal418 karma

No. The ban hasn't changed anything. Papers have been shuffled several times, but nothing has changed since the initial tweets.

aatx1228207 karma

Do you plan to stay in the military long term or (if not)what do your future plans look like outside the military?

lambdalegal338 karma

I have another 7 years left until retirement. After that, who knows.

wingman626195 karma

I remember hearing a segment of something similar to this on an NPR radio station on my commute to work. I bet the feeling of having to be a part of a big case, who's ultimate decision could impact millions of other transgendered individuals who either serve or want to serve, is probably really daunting.

1.) My first question is; what do you really feel about going against something as enormous as this? Is it more of a "how did i even get here?" Type of feeling or has this shocked you in anyway?

2.) What type of publicity has this accumulated towards you (for lack of a better way to phrase this question). Given how national, or even global, this story has become ;; Has there been anything that someone has said to you or done to you that really impacted how you feel and such?

3.) This question is more for your legal team (since the majority of case AmA's have to be censored and questions cherry picked by the law firm so it doesn't back fire later);; how are you guys dealing with this? As a firm dealing with something this large, i bet the front desk gets loaded with phone calls for one. Do you feel prepared or stressed from the enormity of all this?

Hope this AmA can be verified soon

Thank you for your service and i wish you the best of luck.

lambdalegal298 karma

  1. Sometimes I have that "how did I get here" feeling. Looking back, though, I don't think I can identify any one point in this whole process where I made the wrong choice. I definitely didn't expect the sum of those choices to lead me here, though.
  2. There are others in the trans military community who have received far more publicity than I, and I don't envy them that at all. So far, I haven't had anybody recognize me on the street or anything, and I'm perfectly happy with that.
  3. From a lawyer: "Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest nonprofit legal group advocating for the full rights of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV in the United States. We feel confident in our abilities to handle cases of this magnitude. We're honored to have Staff Sergeant Schmid as a client."

CHWK161 karma


lambdalegal410 karma

Any medical care I receive, whether it's transition-related or not, is part of what I earn by being a service member, just like any other service member.

KarmaCausesCancer107 karma

If it requires medical treatment, why isn't it perceived as a pre-existing medical condition?

lambdalegal406 karma

A medical condition is only prohibitive if it's duty-limiting. It's not comparable to diabetes or flat feet, it's more comparable to a cisgender service member who develops low-testosterone, or menopause. You take a couple pills and drive on.

waycooladenu160 karma

Vets and trans are the two most likely groups to commit suicide what are your thoughts on allowing someone to be both?

lambdalegal497 karma

The reality is these aren't two different groups. There are already transgender service members and transgender veterans. The question is if we're really going to leave them out to dry.

streamstroller139 karma

  1. Thank you for your service.

  2. What would you say is the biggest misconception about transgendered service members?

lambdalegal460 karma

There are several. Look at this thread. 😜

  1. That we're mentally unstable.
  2. That it's a cosmetic thing and not medically-necessary.
  3. That we're unsure of who we "really" are.
  4. That being trans at all impacts our ability to do our jobs.

Ojijab221 karma

Not trying to be a dick here, but how is getting transgender surgery considered medically necessary?

lambdalegal-141 karma

lambdalegal71 karma

Thanks everyone, we're signing off now!

madmoran102949 karma

Thank you for your service. However do you think your presence and lawsuit compromises unit cohesion? For instance do fellow soldiers roll their eyes when teased by others for being part of “that persons” battalion?

lambdalegal113 karma

The biggest response I've gotten from other soldiers specifically asking about the lawsuit is "Wait, can you do that?" (Spoiler alert: Yes.)

I know my first Sergeant has rolled his eyes a couple of times. But the fact that this is going on doesn't make me a "problem soldier". And I think that's what most everybody is concerned about. The first question is "can you do that?" and the second question is "well, is she still doing her job?" (Spoiler alert: Yes.)

jellybean_1134 karma

What would you say has been the biggest challenge of being a trans woman in the military that the majority might not face or understand?

And as someone who does not live in the U.S., how can I help from afar?

lambdalegal135 karma

The words "tremendous burden" from the initial tweet still ring in my ears. The weight of knowing that attitude is so persistent is, well, tremendous.

Curpix19 karma

What's been one of the biggest challenges you've faced while being a beacon of hope for so many of us transgender service members? Have you faced any difficulties that you did not expect to face?

lambdalegal166 karma

The biggest challenge and the one I least expected is that there would be so much of the military trying to distract me from my job of soldiering, by focusing on my status as trans, instead of just letting it be.

Everybody seems to think that it's a distraction, when in reality the conversation about whether I'm distracted from my duties is what is distracting.

polypeach12 karma

Do you have a favorite self-care activity that you find affirming? Thank you for your service. I grew up in a military town and worked on a military base for years and I appreciate it! 💜 queer femme

lambdalegal112 karma

I like to cook. And honestly, putting on the uniform is affirming.

uncle_nurgle8 karma

Who is your favorite Kpop idol? Mine's Momo. This week anyway.

lambdalegal48 karma

EXO! They're adorable, I can't help it.

throwawaychilder-3 karma

Hey Katie.. I can't guarantee I'll respond back as I'm back and forth between being unconscious and sick, but is there any way we can help your cause outside of any petitions we may have already signed through places like

lambdalegal68 karma

The primary accusation is that we're not capable of doing our jobs. The military serves the American people, and so it's them that we have to convince. In short, tell your friends.