The Pentagon confirmed Monday the first transgender recruit has signed up for military service, despite the White House calling for a ban against such personnel from serving in the armed forces.
The recruit signed a service contract on Friday after meeting a battery of physical, psychological and medical requirements for enlistment, Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. David Eastburn told The Washington Times.
Meanwhile, the White House is expected to release its official policy on transgender troops on March 23, a deadline set by President Trump a memorandum calling for a ban late last year.
Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday that Defense Secretary James Mattis’ recommendations on whether to allow transgender troops to serve was under review at the White House.
Col. Manning declined to divulge any details about the recommendations or conversations between Mr. Mattis and other officials on the issue, noting the confidentiality of such information.
Supporters of banning transgender personnel say such troops do not improve military readiness or unit cohesion, arguing that the military has repeatedly been used to advance progressive social engineering efforts.
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Opponents of a ban say excluding transgender troops violates their civil rights.
The Defense Department declined to divulge which branch the transgender recruit joined or whether the recruit, who wishes to remain anonymous, signed up as a serviceman or a servicewoman.
Whether the recruit will be allowed to remain in the military is up to the White House.
Col. Manning said Mr. Mattis’ recommendations, which were sent Friday to the White House, are based on the findings of a department-led review late last year. That review found that transgender troops could remain in the military under certain conditions.
Mr. Mattis had been expected to deliver his recommendations last week, but he and his staff needed more time to fully address the complexities of the matter, Pentagon press secretary Dana White said Thursday.
“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he’s been given. It’s an important issue, and again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality,” she told reporters, noting that the Feb. 21 due date for the policy was a “self-imposed deadline” by Mr. Mattis.
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Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in 2016 that transgender troops could serve openly in the military. Under his directive, transgender recruits would have been able to enlist last July, but Mr. Mattis pushed back that deadline to January as he reviewed the Obama-era policy.
Last August, Mr. Trump directed the Pentagon to reinstate the ban. Since then, two federal courts have ruled the White House’s ban unconstitutional.
Transgender recruits were allowed to be enlisted beginning Jan. 1.
New standards for transgender enlistment include certification that recruits have been deemed “clinically stable” in their preferred sex for 18 months, and do not suffer from marked stress or impairment tied to their selected gender during certain scenarios tied to military service.