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military matters

Barely any transgender recruits have made it into the military since Trump's ban ended

Courts may have nixed President Trump's capriciously announced blanket ban on transgender troops, but recruits are still facing a blockade to enlistment.

Barely any transgender people who have tried to enlist since the military began accepting transgender recruits on Jan. 1 have actually made it to basic training, a startling report from The New York Times shows. They're still buried in bureaucracy, stuck submitting outdated medical records and denied enlistment for health problems they haven't faced in decades.

Nicholas Bade, a double black belt whose records show he's fit to enlist, tells the Times he has been rejected from the Air Force five times this year. Another transgender man was denied because he had knee surgery as a baby — a surgery that's never affected him since. In fact, LGBTQ activist group Sparta says of its 140 transgender members who've tried to enlist this year, only two have actually made it into military service.

Paula Neira, head of the Center for Transgender Health at Johns Hopkins Medicine and facilitator of the Obama-era policy, says these prolonged medical checks for transgender troops seem reasonable given how new this is to the military. "There is no one doing these assessments that is an expert in transgender health, so they have to figure things out as they go along," she told the Times.

In 2016, former President Barack Obama announced plans to lift the ban on transgender enlistment beginning this year. Trump tried to stymie that last summer, before being overruled by the courts.

Read more at The New York Times.