The Pentagon announced this week that it is preparing to accept transgender recruits beginning in January, following recent court orders that temporarily block Trump’s ban.
Judges in D.C. and Maryland ruled in preliminary injunctions last month that trans soldiers must be allowed to join the military, prohibiting the Pentagon from moving forward with Trump’s transphobic orders.
“While reviewing legal options with the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense is taking steps to be prepared to initiate accessions of transgender applicants for military service on January 1, 2018, per recent court orders,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Dave Eastburn wrote in a statement to the Washington Examiner.
The deadline could still get pushed back, however, if the Justice Department seeks an emergency stay to the court ruling.
Trump delayed the Obama-era directive to permit trans enrollment in July with a string of controversial tweets.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” he wrote. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [sic] in the military would entail. Thank you.”
There are currently four federal lawsuits that were filed by troops and potential enlistees in Maryland, California, Washington state and D.C. that are attempting to challenge Trump’s transgender ban.
Update: A federal judge has rejected Trump’s request to further delay the ability of trans people to enlist in the military, and the Pentagon has confirmed that enlistments would indeed begin on January 1.
“In a series of important legal developments, the courts have rebuked the Trump/Pence administration’s policy of discrimination against transgender people,” Joel Kasnetz said in a statement for the Democratic National Committee.
“We must be clear: All capable and willing Americans should be able to serve in our armed forces,” he added. “This is not only the right thing to do, but it will also make our military stronger and more united than ever before. We look forward to a world where transgender people are recognized for their humanity, not degraded and attacked as they are by this administration.”