Judge rules U.S. military must accept transgender recruits by Jan. 1

Dec 11 (Reuters) - Transgender recruits will be able to join the U.S. military as of Jan. 1, a federal judge ruled on Monday, denying a request by President Donald Trump's administration to enforce his ban on transgender troops while the government appeals an order blocking it.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington refused to lift part of her Oct. 30 order stopping the ban from taking effect until the case is resolved, because it likely violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law.

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The administration had argued that the Jan. 1 deadline was problematic because tens of thousands of personnel would have to be trained on the medical standards needed to process transgender applicants, and the military was not ready for that. Kollar-Kotelly rejected the concerns, saying that preparations for accepting transgender troops were underway during the administration of Trump's predecessor Barack Obama.

"The directive from the Secretary of Defense requiring the military to prepare to begin allowing accession of transgender individuals was issued on June 30, 2016 - nearly one and a half years ago," the judge said.

Several transgender service members filed a lawsuit after Trump announced in July he would ban transgender people from the military, citing concern over military focus and medical costs.

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Transgender members of the military
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Transgender members of the military

Nevada Army National Guard Sergeant Sam Hunt, an electrician with G Company, 2/238th General Support Aviation Battalion poses for a photo on the flight line at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Stead, Nevada, U.S. May 12, 2017. Hunt is the first openly transgender soldier of the Nevada National Guard. 

(Tech. Sgt. Emerson Marcus/Nevada Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs/Handout via REUTERS)

Former US Army Colonel and transgender Sheri Swokowski talks with reporters on July 27, 2017 in DeForest, Wisconsin, the day following US President Donald Trumps announcing of a ban on transgender military members.

(DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Transgender former US Air Force member Vanessa Sheridan poses for a photo after talking with reporters in Chicago, Illinois on July 26, 2017. Trump announced that transgender people may not serve 'in any capacity' in the US military, citing the 'tremendous medical costs and disruption' their presence would cause.

(DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Kristin Beck, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, speaks during a same-sex marriage rally to celebrate the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 25, 2014. The U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday that conservative Utah may not ban gay couples from marrying, a decision that capped a day of victories for same-sex nuptials and nudges the issue closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

(REUTERS/Jim Urquhart)

Alaina Kupec poses for a portrait at Logo's 'Trailblazer Honors' on June 23, 2016, in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

(Photo by Ungano & Agriodimas /Getty Images Portrait)

Transgender military pilot Shane Ortega arrives at IDENTITY: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders The List Portraits exhibition opening at the Annenberg Space for Photography on September 22, 2016 in Century City, California.

(Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Former US Army Colonel and transgender Sheri Swokowski carries her uniform July 27, 2017 in DeForest, Wisconsin, the day following US President Donald Trumps announcing of a ban on transgender military members.

(DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Former US Army Colonel and transgender Sheri Swokowski raises the American flag at her home on July 27, 2017 in DeForest, Wisconsin, the day following US President Donald Trumps announcing of a ban on transgender military members.

(DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Transgender former US Air Force member Vanessa Sheridan poses for a photo after talking with reporters in Chicago, Illinois on July 26, 2017. Trump announced that transgender people may not serve 'in any capacity' in the US military, citing the 'tremendous medical costs and disruption' their presence would cause.

(DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Transgender Retired US Army Colonel Sheri Swokowski prepares her uniform on July 1, 2016, at her home in DeForest, Wisconsin. Transgender personnel will no longer be barred from serving openly in the US military, the Pentagon announced on June 30, 2016. Lifting the ban on transgender service members is 'the right thing to do, and it's another step in ensuring that we continue to recruit and retain the most qualified people,' US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters.

(DEREK HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Hayden Brown with his girlfriend Mia Scott at home on July 28, 2017 in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The transgender solider says he was told, days after President Trump banning transgender people from the military, that he must carry out the rest of his military career as a woman if he wants to keep his job. Hayden Brown says that just days after Donald Trump tweeted he was to ban all transgender people from the military, he received a call from his unit telling him he must revert back to female to continue his service. The 23-year-old from Pennsylvania has been in the armed forces for four and a half years, initially identifying as a woman.

(Ruaridh Connellan/Barcroft Ima/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Collect image of Hayden Brown with his military comrades at the presidential inauguration briefing at the Washington Redskins stadium on January 20, 2017 in Washington DC. A TRANSGENDER solider says he was told, days after President Trump banning transgender people from the military, that he must carry out the rest of his military career as a woman if he wants to keep his job. Hayden Brown says that just days after Donald Trump tweeted he was to ban all transgender people from the military, he received a call from his unit telling him he must revert back to female to continue his service. The 23-year-old from Pennsylvania has been in the armed forces for four and a half years, initially identifying as a woman.

(Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Hayden Brown with his girlfriend Mia Scott at home on July 28, 2017 in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The transgender solider says he was told, days after President Trump banning transgender people from the military, that he must carry out the rest of his military career as a woman if he wants to keep his job. Hayden Brown says that just days after Donald Trump tweeted he was to ban all transgender people from the military, he received a call from his unit telling him he must revert back to female to continue his service. The 23-year-old from Pennsylvania has been in the armed forces for four and a half years, initially identifying as a woman.

(Ruaridh Connellan/Barcroft Ima/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brock Stone, who is based at Fort Meade and has served in the Navy for 11 years, including a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, speaks to reports federal court with his team from the ACLU on November 9, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. Brock Stone is challenging President Trump's policy banning transgender people from serving in the military.

(Photo by Jason Andrew for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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In an August memorandum, Trump gave the military until March 2018 to revert to a policy prohibiting openly transgender individuals from joining the military and authorizing their discharge. The memo also halted the use of government funds for sex-reassignment surgery for active-duty personnel.

Defense Secretary James Mattis had previously delayed a deadline that had been set during the Obama administration to begin enlisting transgender recruits to Jan. 1, which Trump's ban then put off indefinitely.

The Pentagon said on Monday that it was preparing to allow transgender people to enter the U.S. military on Jan. 1, following court orders.

18 PHOTOS
Protests against President Trump's proposed transgender military ban
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Protests against President Trump's proposed transgender military ban
People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A participant cries during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Transgender activist Tanya Walker speaks at a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Demonstrators gather to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A participant dressed as both Russia's President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump attends a protest against Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Demonstrators gather to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
COLUMBUS CIRCLE, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2017/07/29: A group of New Yorkers gathered at Columbus Circle across the Trump International Hotel and Tower New York in Central Park to raise their voices in protest against discrimination towards the LGBT community, in the aftermath of the Trump/Pence regime decision to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
TIMES SQUARE NYC, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2017/07/26: On July 26, 2017, after a series of tweets by President Donald Trump, which proposed to ban transgender people from military service, thousands of New Yorkers took the streets of in opposition. Thousands of transgender soldiers are currently serving in all branches of the United States Armed forces. (Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
TIMES SQUARE NYC, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2017/07/26: On July 26, 2017, after a series of tweets by President Donald Trump, which proposed to ban transgender people from military service, thousands of New Yorkers took the streets of in opposition. Thousands of transgender soldiers are currently serving in all branches of the United States Armed forces. (Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
TIMES SQUARE NYC, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2017/07/26: On July 26, 2017, after a series of tweets by President Donald Trump, which proposed to ban transgender people from military service, thousands of New Yorkers took the streets of in opposition. Thousands of transgender soldiers are currently serving in all branches of the United States Armed forces. (Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Protesters gather in front of the White House on July 26, 2017, in Washington, DC. Trump announced on July 26 that transgender people may not serve 'in any capacity' in the US military, citing the 'tremendous medical costs and disruption' their presence would cause. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 26: Dozens of protesters gather in Times Square near a military recruitment center to show their anger at President Donald Trump's decision to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military on July 26, 2017 in New York City. Trump citied the 'tremendous medical costs and disruption' for his decision. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 26: Human Rights Campaign supporters hold up signs as the House Democrats along with the LGBT Equality Caucus' Transgender Equality Task Force members hold a press conference outside of the Capitol to call on President Trump to reverse his ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Protesters display placards against US President Donald Trump during a demonstration in front of the US Army career center in Times Square, New York, on July 26, 2017. Trump announced on July 26 that transgender people may not serve 'in any capacity' in the US military, citing the 'tremendous medical costs and disruption' their presence would cause. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
TIMES SQUARE NYC, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2017/07/26: On July 26, 2017, after a series of tweets by President Donald Trump, which proposed to ban transgender people from military service, thousands of New Yorkers took the streets of in opposition. Thousands of transgender soldiers are currently serving in all branches of the United States Armed forces. (Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
TIMES SQUARE NYC, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2017/07/26: On July 26, 2017, after a series of tweets by President Donald Trump, which proposed to ban transgender people from military service, thousands of New Yorkers took the streets of in opposition. Thousands of transgender soldiers are currently serving in all branches of the United States Armed forces. (Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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The service members who sued Trump, Mattis and military leaders in August had been serving openly as transgender people in the U.S. Army, Air Force and Coast Guard. They said Trump's ban discriminated against them based on their sex and transgender status.

In her October ruling, Kollar-Kotelly said the Trump administration's reasons for the ban "do not appear to be supported by any facts" and cited a military-commissioned study that debunked concerns about military cohesion or healthcare costs.

A second federal judge in Maryland also halted the ban in Nov. 21 ruling. 

 

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