Despite Donald Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people being allowed to enlist in the US military, the Pentagon has stated that it will take applications from the trans community starting 1 January, 2018.
That’s not to say that the enlistment process will be easy for transgender people, as they will have to overcome a list of strict physical, medical and mental conditions.
This new policy has added increasing legal pressure for the federal government, who are currently attempting to enforce Trump’s ban on transgender individuals from the military.
Maj David Eastburn told the Associated Press that transgender recruits will be enlisted as the legal battles continue, with the Department of Defense studying the issue.
These new guidelines by the Pentagon also state that they can disqualify potential recruits with gender dysphoria, or those taking medication for gender transition, and those who have undergone gender confirmation surgery.
However, these recruit will be considered and potentially allowed to join the military if they have been clinically stable in their preferred gender for 18 months, are free of significant distress.
It means that the enlistment requirements for transgender people are challenging, but they are similar restrictions to those placed upon recruits with a variety of mental conditions, including bipolar disorder.
“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.
The ban on transgender service members joining the military was first lifted back in 2016 by the then-defense secretary Ash Carter.
He proposed that transgender people would be able to enlist in the military by July 2017.
As we all know, when Trump was voted into the White House, he then confirmed plans to reverse that decision, saying that the federal government “will not accept or allow” transgender troops to serve “in any capacity” in the military.
Trump’s decision has been challenged in court, and back in October was partially blocked by a judge.
US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly overruled a presidential memo that was issued by Trump earlier this year, which sought to reverse the Obama-era policy that allowed trans people to serve openly in the military.
But now, thanks to the judge’s decision, the US military will return to the status quo, allowing trans individuals to join the military and existing ones to continue to serve openly.
Kollar-Kottelly said Trump’s motives for the ban are “not genuinely based on legitimate concerns regarding military effectiveness or budget constraints, but are instead driven by a desire to express disapproval of transgender people generally”.