Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Scott Peters


Transgender military personnel--Government policy--United States; Transgender military personnel--Law and legislation--United States;


On August 25, 2017, President Trump announced a policy banning transgender individuals from military service. Transgender individuals had been banned from military service for most of history, but were given the right to serve in 2016 under Obama’s presidency. Trump’s ban was a reversal of this policy of inclusion. The ban on transgender military service has received both support and criticism. It has been challenged in the court system by transgender individuals currently serving in the military, though these cases have not yet reached the Supreme Court. In order to understand what the Supreme Court might decide in a case about the ban, it is important to examine the precedent the Court has established in several different areas of law. This thesis will provide a legal analysis of President Trump’s transgender military ban by first laying out the history of LGBT military service, and specifically military service of transgender individuals. Next, this thesis will examine precedent in the areas of deference to Congress in areas related to the military, and then examine the constitutional principles of substantive due process and equal protection. An analysis of these areas will show that the Court retains the right to answer constitutional questions and does not owe deference to the military, particularly when it comes to the protection of disadvantaged classes. President Trump’s transgender military ban is not constitutional because it violates the fundamental right to privacy found under substantive due process, and denies transgender individuals equal protection under the law because the policy is not substantially related to a governmental interest.

Year of Submission



Department of Political Science

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

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