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U.S. district court blocks Trump's transgender troop ban

A judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday blocked President Trump's August memo directing the Pentagon to implement a ban on transgender troops, The Associated Press reports. Trump's order, which came as a surprise in July, demanded that the Defense Department stop accepting openly transgender recruits but allowed Pentagon leadership to decide whether active transgender personnel could continue in their roles.

Monday's ruling means that the ban cannot be enforced as it is debated in courts: "U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote Monday that transgender members of the military who had sued over the change were likely to win their lawsuit and barred the Trump administration from reversing course," AP writes.

The judge did, however, deny the plaintiffs' motion to lift the ban on funds for gender reassignment surgery, The Hill reports. Trump's memo prohibited federal spending on sex-reassignment surgeries unless they are needed "to protect the health of an individual who has already begun a course of treatment to reassign his or her sex."

Over the summer, Trump's ban was met by heavy criticism, including from Republicans and veterans. "Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving ... regardless of their gender identity," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the time.