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Department of Defense appeals court order requiring military to allow openly transgender recruits

In an ongoing legal battle over a policy President Donald Trump announced in July, the Trump administration has asked a federal court for an emergency stay to delay a court order to begin opening the military to transgender recruits by Jan. 1. (Getty Images)

The Department of Defense is seeking a last-minute emergency stay for a federal court order requiring the military to allow transgender recruits by Jan. 1, Politico reports.

It's part of an ongoing legal battle over a policy President Donald Trump announced in July. Under the policy, all transgender people would be barred from serving in the military. The Pentagon was already studying how to best implement his policy, according to Politico.

A new Justice Department motion argues that it is not feasible to work on two competing policies at the same time.

"Compelling the military to implement a new accessions policy while it is simultaneously completing a comprehensive study of military service by transgender individuals that may soon result in the adoption of different accessions standards would waste significant military resources and sow unnecessary confusion among service members and applicants," the Justice Department motion stated.

Pentagon leaders are continuing to study the issue, Politico reported.

Opponents of Trump's policy said they believe the administration is lying.

“The military had already done most of the work to lift the ban by the presidential transition; it’s certainly ready to make the change now," said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, an LGBT research center, told Defense News.

To date, two federal judges have opposed a policy issued by President Donald Trump in July to bar transgenders from serving in the military.

In a 53-page ruling in November, Judge Marvin Garbis in Maryland said transgender service members were "already suffering harmful consequences[.]"

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in October also issued a court order to block Trump's policy, and subsequently ordered the government to allow transgender recruits, effective Jan. 1.

What did Trump say?

Trump announced on Twitter in July that transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve in the military "in any capacity." He said the military needs to focus on “decisive and overwhelming victory” without being “burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption” that he believes transgender people cause by serving in the military.

Pentagon officials were previously given until March 23, 2018, to also "address transgender troops already serving openly," Time magazine reported.

How many transgender people are in the military?

A 2015 New England Journal of Medicine study estimated that 12,800 transgender personnel currently serve in the U.S. armed forces. According to the Department of Defense, a total of about 1.3 million men and women are on active duty.

In 2016, the Pentagon lifted a ban on transgender people serving in the military. Previously, transgenders operated under a mode similar to 'don't ask, don't tell.'

The 2016 announcement also came with an a provision for the same medical coverage as all other members of the armed forces. The coverage included hormone therapy and "gender reassignment surgery," if recommended by doctors.

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