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Trump moves to limit transgender individuals from military service

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One as he departs for Palm Beach, Florida, from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., March 23, 2018.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One as he departs for Palm Beach, Florida, from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on Friday that bans most transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military, but gives the armed forces some latitude in implementing policies.

The memorandum said that transgender individuals with a history of “gender dysphoria,” which was defined as “those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery,” are disqualified from military service “except under certain limited circumstances.”

It added that the secretaries of defense and homeland security “may exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals.”

The White House said on Friday that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had found that individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria presented a risk to military effectiveness.

“This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards ... equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen,” the White House said.

Trump announced in July that he would prohibit transgender people from serving in the military, reversing former President Barack Obama’s policy of accepting them.

A number of federal judges have issued rulings blocking Trump’s ban. The judges said the ban would likely violate the right under the U.S. Constitution to equal protection under the law.

On Friday, the Pentagon reaffirmed that it would continue to comply with federal law.

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“(The Pentagon) will continue to assess and retain transgender service members,” Pentagon spokesman Major David Eastburn said. (Reporting by Idrees Ali and Eric Beech; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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