Trump’s Department of Justice will not push back against two federal appeals courts rulings that paved the way for the military to enlist transgender recruits starting on January 1, suggesting that the president has temporarily halted his push to bar transgender people from serving in the armed forces.
“The Department of Defense has announced that it will be releasing an independent study of these issues in the coming weeks,” a Justice Department official told the New York Post. “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.”
In July, Trump ignited a firestorm of controversy by announcing on Twitter that he would reinstate a ban on transgender military service that the Obama administration lifted in 2016, citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
The White House established guidelines for the transgender military ban the following month, giving Defense Secretary Jim Mattis jurisdiction to determine whether service members would be able to deploy and the Pentagon power to deny enlistment and benefits to transgender soldiers.
The ban was largely rendered moot by lower court rulings that compelled the military to begin accepting transgender recruits in 2018, their rulings upheld by federal appeals courts that sided against the Trump administration.
“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,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb in a statement.