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U.S. military resumes transgender recruitment despite Trump order

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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Pentagon is permitting military recruitment of people who identify as the opposite sex, despite President Donald Trump having ordered a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.

Officials confirmed Monday that as of last week it has one transgender recruit. This is the first to sign a recruitment contract since a federal court order required the Pentagon to admit transgender individuals into the military beginning January 1 if they meet certain criteria.

"The Department of Defense confirms that as of February 23, 2018, there is one transgender individual under contract for service in the U.S. military," Department of Defense spokesman Major Dave Eastburn told ABC News.

The individual, whose service branch and gender are not being divulged to maintain privacy, will begin basic training in the next few months.

The news comes as Trump is in the process of deciding how his Department of Defense will handle the issue of transgender military service, and after four lower courts and two appellate courts have ruled against the ban.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s recommendation on the policy was made to the White House in private on Friday. A final policy announcement is expected from Trump in late March.

Trump announced the transgender ban last July, emphasizing military readiness and cost concerns with admitting transgender troops.

"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,” the president said on Twitter. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."

The ban was praised by family advocates, some retired military personnel and leaders, ex-trans individuals and other advocates, and denounced by transgender advocates.

Aside from privacy and security issues, the ban garnered praise for fiscal responsibility for its reportedly saving taxpayers an estimated $2 billion over 10 years in direct medical costs and the cost of lost time due to "sex reassignment" surgery. 

Trump’s transgender military ban is a reversal of the transgender recruitment policy instituted in 2016 by the Obama Administration, which lifted the previous longstanding policy on transgender troops. The new Obama policy allowing transgender military service was scheduled to take effect July 1 of last year.

The policy’s implementation was postponed six months for Mattis to study its potential effects on the military and to prepare to put it into place, with Trump’s tweet on the ban coming in the first month of the policy’s review.

Trump gave a formal order for the transgender military ban a month later in August, also directing Mattis to submit a plan on implementing the changes to Trump by February 21.  

Obama-era Pentagon officials had created and endorsed the policy accepting transgender service.

Mattis had kept one official, personnel chief Anthony Kurta, on staff after Trump took office, and he also allowed Kurta to write the report on transgender military service.

Details of the report have not been released, but media reports last week have Mattis in favor of allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military.

Trump’s lawyers are appealing the court decisions to the appeals-court judges, according to Breitbart.

With Mattis’s reported endorsement of transgender troops and continued legal challenges Trump’s decision on the ban remains the focus of high anticipation.

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