First transgender recruit signs up to join US military
In this April 10, 2008 file photo, U.S. soldiers salute during a handover ceremony at the main U.S. base at Bagram north of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Source: AP Photo, File)
By Ryan Browne
(CNN) -- The Pentagon confirmed Monday that the first transgender person has signed a contract to join the US military, a development made possible after a federal judge ruled that the military must accept transgender recruits. The ruling came after President Donald Trump announced his desire to prevent transgender people from serving in a July tweet.
"The Department of Defense confirms that as of February 23, 2018, there is one transgender individual under contract for service in the US Military," Maj. Dave Eastburn told CNN.
The individual has met all the standards for serving in the military and signed a contract but has not yet begun basic training.
In July 2017, Trump surprised military leaders by tweeting, "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump said "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."
His tweets came less than a month into the six-month delay set by Defense Secretary James Mattis to review the US military's policy on transgender service members. On Friday, Mattis presented his recommendations to the President regarding the future of transgender service members.
"We are waiting for the President to make a decision based on the Secretary's recommendation," Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday.
"Conversations between the Secretary and the President are confidential and will remain private," Manning added.
However, the Pentagon was forced to allow transgender applicants to the military on January 1 after a federal judge ruled that the US military had to allow transgender recruits to join.
"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," chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told reporters last week.
Transgender people had historically not been allowed to join the military but the Obama administration had issued a directive in June 2016 to determine a process to allow them to join.
A three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit noted in December that transgender people are "already serving openly in the military."