A Pentagon official on Monday told The Associated Press that transgender people can enlist in the military starting Jan. 1, despite President Trump’s opposition.
The new policy reflects growing legal pressure on the topic and the difficult obstacles the federal government would face in enforcing a ban on transgender people in the military.
Two federal courts have already ruled against the block, which Trump had previously demanded.
Physical transgender recruits will have to pass a lengthy and strict set of physical, medical and mental conditions that make it possible, albeit hard, for them to join America’s armed services.
Maj. David Eastburn said that the enlistment of transgender recruits will begin Jan. 1 and continue despite ongoing legal challenges.
Eastburn, who is a Pentagon spokesperson, noted that the Department of Defense (DOD) is also studying the issue.
The spokesman said that the new guidelines mean that the Pentagon can disqualify potential recruits with gender dysphoria.
Eastburn also that the Pentagon could also disqualify such individuals with a history of medical treatments associated with gender transition.
AP’s source added that the Pentagon could finally reject potential recruits who have undergone reconstruction.
Transgender individuals receiving hormone therapy must also show stability on their medication for 18 months.
“Due to the complexity of this new medical standard, trained medical officers will perform a medical prescreen of transgender applicants for military service who otherwise meet all other applicant standards,” he said.
Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter last year ended the ban on transgender military service members, permitting them to openly serve in the nation’s armed forces.
Trump, however, tweeted last July that the federal government “will not accept or allow” transgender troops to serve “in any capacity” in America’s military.
The president in August then issued a formal order to the Pentagon to extend the ban, allowing the department six months to figure out the best solution for those who are already serving.
Two U.S. district court judges have since ruled against the ban, with part of one ruling requiring the federal government to allow transgender individuals to serve starting on Jan. 1.
The federal government had previously asked that the Jan. 1 requirement get put on hold until the appeals process ends.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.