On Monday, the U.S. military announced that transgender people will be allowed to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, despite opposition from President Donald Trump.
The announcement comes after the president announced back in July that he banned transgender people from joining the military.
In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly declined the Trump administration’s request to put on hold an order allowing transgender individuals to join the military beginning in January. The decision means transgender people will be free to enlist next year.
“In sum, having carefully considered all of the evidence before it, the Court is not persuaded that Defendants will be irreparably injured by allowing the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on January 1, 2018,” Kollar-Kotelly said in her ruling.
Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said the enlistment of transgender recruits will start Jan. 1 and go on amid the legal battles. The Defense Department also is studying the issue.
The Pentagon said on Monday that new guidelines mean the Pentagon can disqualify potential recruits with gender dysphoria, a history of medical treatments associated with gender transition, and those who underwent reconstruction. But such recruits are allowed in if a medical provider certifies they’ve been clinically stable in the preferred sex for 18 months and are free of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas.
Transgender individuals receiving hormone therapy also must be stable on their medication for 18 months.
The guidelines mirror concerns first raised by the Obama administration when the Pentagon initially lifted its ban on transgender service in 2016.
“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,” Eastburn said.
Over the summer, Trump blindsided military leaders in a series of tweets in which he announced he intended to reverse his previous political positions and change already enacted policies on how to treat women and men serving in the military who don’t identify with their birth gender.
“I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens,” Trump said at a rally in July 2016, following the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, including chairman General Joseph Dunford, were not aware President Donald Trump planned to tweet a ban on transgender service members, despite Trump stating he had consulted with military leaders.
There are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender individuals currently serving on active duty, about 0.05 percent of the total active force, according to a study by the Rand Corporation. Other studies say that number may be as high as 15,000.