The United States military will begin enlisting transgender people from January 1, 2018 following federal court orders, the Pentagon said on Friday. Federal appeals courts in Virginia and Washington had last week rejected the US administration’s request to put on hold orders by lower courts requiring the military to begin accepting transgender individuals from January 1.
“As mandated by court order, the Department of Defense is prepared to begin accessing transgender applicants for military service,” Pentagon spokesperson Heather Babb said according to Reuters. “All applicants must meet all accession standards.”
An unidentified Justice Department official told the agency that the Donald Trump administration would not challenge the federal court rulings. “The Department of Defense has announced that it will be releasing an independent study of these issues in the coming weeks,” he said. “So rather than litigate this interim appeal before that occurs, the administration has decided to wait for the department’s study.”
The Pentagon had created a panel of senior officials in September to study how to implement President Donald Trump’s directive to prohibit transgender individuals from serving in the US military. The committee will submit its report to the president by February 21, 2018.
Jennifer Levi, a lawyer with gay, lesbian and transgender advocacy group GLAD, said the Trump administration’s decision not to appeal the federal court judgments was “great news”. “I’m hoping it means the government has come to see that there is no way to justify a ban and that it’s not good for the military or our country,” Levi said.