Transgender US troops can serve into 2018: Pentagon

People protesting against Donald Trump's planned ban on transgender individuals serving in the military in July 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Transgender personnel in the US military can keep serving and can re-enlist well into next year while the Pentagon figures out how to implement President Donald Trump's ban, an official said on Friday (Sept 15).

Trump surprised Pentagon leaders in July by announcing via Twitter the ban on transgender people serving "in any capacity," reversing a plan launched by his predecessor Barack Obama that would see the military accept openly transgender recruits.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had directed senior officials to develop a plan to implement Trump's ban, but it doesn't need to be submitted to the president until Feb 21, 2018.

"The implementation plan will establish the policy standards and procedures to address military service by transgender individuals... consistent with military readiness, lethality, deployability and budgetary constraints and applicable law," Manning told reporters.

He said the Obama-era policy allowing transgender personnel to serve and receive medical treatment will remain in place for now.

"Transgender service members whose term expires while the (current) guidance is in effect may re-enlist under existing procedures," Manning said.

Trump's transgender ban has already sparked several legal challenges.

OutServe-SLDN - which works to end military discrimination - and civil rights litigators Lambda Legal have filed a lawsuit and on Thursday, retired admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, threw his support behind the challenge.

"The military's prior considered judgment on this matter should not be disregarded and we should not breach the faith of service members who defend our freedoms, including those who are transgender," he said in a declaration.

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