With Donald Trump's ban on military service by transgender people temporarily blocked by courts, his administration will release a new policy on trans troops February 21.
A federal judge announced the news this week, as Justice Department lawyers had told him that in a challenge to the ban, they will instead be defending the new policy, BuzzFeed reports.
U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis, who is hearing one of the cases in Maryland, "noted the new policy development in the course of a brief ruling on when the government must turn over certain information to those challenging the policy," the site reports. Garbis wrote in an order Tuesday that administration lawyers told him they could not turn over the information "because they will not be defending the policy now at issue but will be defending the policy to be disclosed on February 21, 2018."
February 21 was the date set by Trump for Defense Secretary James Mattis to submit a plan for implementation of the ban. Garbis and three other federal judges have issued injunctions blocking the ban while lawsuits against it are being heard in court. The injunctions mean that trans troops currently serving could do so openly and not have to fear discharge because of their identity, and new trans recruits could begin enlisting January 1 of this year. Trump had announced reinstatement of the ban via Twitter in July, reversing the move by President Barack Obama's administration to lift it a year earlier.
Maj. David Eastburn, a Defense Department spokesman, told BuzzFeed the department would make "recommendations," on the new policy, but its final form would be up to Trump.
"The panel that was established by the secretary of Defense is presenting their recommendations to him," Eastburn said. "At the end of this month, the secretary will make his recommendations to the president, who will then make a decision and establish the new policy on transgender [service] in the military."