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Transgender recruits will be able to enlist, Pentagon declares in blow to Trump

TRANSGENDER recruits will be able to enlist in the US military from January 1, the Pentagon announced on Monday in another blow to Donald Trump’s ordered ban.

The US president issued a memorandum in August directing the military not to press ahead with predecessor Barack Obama’s plans allowing transgender people to serve in the armed forces. It also banned the Department of Defence from using its resources to provide surgery for transgender people currently serving in the military.

However, the memorandum was challenged by a group of serving military personnel and the ban blocked by a federal court in October while the legal case continues.

US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the military would be required to allow transgender people to enlist in the armed forces from January 1 2018. The government had asked her to put the decision on hold pending an appeal. However, she ruled on Monday that the government would not be “irreparably injured” if the January 1 deadline remained in place as the lawsuit continues.

Transgender recruits will still have to pass a strict set of physical, mental and medical conditions that could prove a barrier to their enlistment.

Pentagon spokesman Major David Eastman confirmed that recruitment would start next month while the legal wrangles continue, but he explained that, under new rules, transgender recruits can be blocked if they have gender dysphoria or other conditions associated with gender transitioning.

“Due to the complexity of this new medical standard, trained medical officers will perform a medical prescreen of transgender applicants for military service who otherwise meet all applicable applicant standards,” he said.

Human Rights Campaign spokeswoman Sarah McBride said the ruling affirms that “there is simply no legitimate reason to forbid willing and able transgender Americans from serving their country.”

The government is appealing against the latest ruling.

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