The Pentagon said Tuesday it is taking steps to be prepared to accept transgender recruits on Jan. 1 following recent court orders temporarily blocking President Trump’s ban.
Last month, district court judges in Washington, D.C., and Maryland issued preliminary injunctions in two federal lawsuits that prohibit the Pentagon from moving ahead with Trump’s directive to phase out transgender service and gender reassignment surgeries.
The D.C. judge issued a further ruling last week that specifically prohibits Defense Secretary Jim Mattis from delaying earlier plans to begin transgender recruitment into the military next month.
“While reviewing legal options with the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense is taking steps to be prepared to initiate accessions of transgender applicants for military service on January 1, 2018, per recent court orders,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Dave Eastburn wrote in an email to the Washington Examiner.
In June, Mattis delayed plans to begin enlistment and commissioning of transgender troops for six months. But Trump announced in late July via a series of tweets that transgender troops would no longer be allowed to serve in any capacity and followed up with orders to the Pentagon in August.
The Justice Department had indicated in legal filings that it may seek an emergency stay in the D.C. judge’s ruling so that the accessions could be delayed. It told the Washington Examiner last week it was still reviewing its options.
Trump’s transgender ban is being challenged by four federal lawsuits filed by troops and potential enlistees in D.C., Maryland, California, and Washington state.