The first openly transgender recruit has signed up for the U.S. military after federal courts blocked President Trump’s proposed ban last year, forcing the Pentagon to accept transgender people.
The development, first reported by CNN, comes as Secretary of Defense James Mattis submitted a recommendation to the president last week outlining how a transgender ban could be implemented. The White House is reportedly taking time to debate the issue before making a final decision.
The unnamed recruit is the first transgender person to formally sign a contract with the military since it formally began accepting transgender recruits on Jan. 1, and has yet to start basic training, according to CNN.
Last July, President Trump tweeted a stunning reversal of an Obama-era policy, which had previously directed the military to start accepting transgender recruits starting in July. The Department of Defense delayed that date to Jan 1. 2018.
In a series of tweets, Trump declared that the “United States Government will not accept or allow......Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” He added the U.S. military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
The policy reversal reportedly came as a surprise to Mattis, who was on vacation and received a day’s notice, according to the New York Times. The president formally issued a memo a month later, directing Mattis to outline how a ban could actually be implemented by Feb 21. Mattis missed that deadline by two days, which Maj. David Eastburn told VICE News last week was because he wanted to make the best recommendation possible.
Since the proposed ban was announced last summer, a number of federal judges have blocked the White House’s bid to delay the Jan. 1 enlistment date for transgender recruits, forcing the Pentagon to comply amid the ongoing court battles.
The National Center for Gender Equalityestimates there are more than 15,000 transgender people serving in the U.S. military today.