Beginning January 1, transgender people will be permitted to enlist in the United States military, and the Trump administration is allowing it to happen … for now.
After two federal appeals courts in Washington and Virginia rejected the administration’s attempt to halt orders by lower court judges requiring the acceptance of transgender troops in the military, the Justice Department has reportedly announced that it won’t be challenging those rulings. Instead, it intends to wait for further data.
“The Department of Defense has announced that it will be releasing an independent study of these issues in the coming weeks. So rather than litigate this interim appeal before that occurs, the administration has decided to wait for DOD’s study and will continue to defend the president’s lawful authority in district court in the meantime,” a Justice Department official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
A panel of senior officials convened in September to study the issue, and they have until February 21 to submit their plan to ban transgender people from military service.
“As mandated by court order, the Department of Defense is prepared to begin accessing transgender applicants for military service Jan. 1. All applicants must meet all accession standards,” Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb said in a statement.
In July, President Trump announced via Twitter his intention to reverse former President Obama’s policy on the matter.
In a move that appealed to his hard-line conservative supporters, Trump announced in July that he would prohibit transgender people from serving in the military, reversing the Democratic former president’s policy of accepting them.
Trump stated at the time that the military shouldn’t “be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
However, four federal judges have blocked the ban based on their belief that it could violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.
According to Reuters, the Pentagon issued guidelines in early December that outline “medical requirements and specified how the applicants’ sex would be identified and even which undergarments they would wear.”
2018 will mark the first time transgender recruits have ever been allowed to serve in the military, as Obama’s July 1 deadline had been put off until January 1 by Defense Secretary James Mattis.
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