First transgender service member joins military following Trump ban

A transgender service member has joined the military for the first time since President Donald Trump announced a ban last July, the Pentagon said Monday.

“The Department of Defense confirms that as of February 23, 2018, there is one transgender individual under contract for service in the U.S. Military,” Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, told Fox News.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, breaking with Trump, formally recommended last Friday that transgender troops be allowed to serve in the U.S. military provided they can deploy overseas.

Mattis recently issued a new policy saying if any service member was unable to deploy with their unit for more than 12 months, excluding the combat wounded, that person would be kicked out of the military.

Officials told Fox News that it was this new policy for non-deployable troops and the recent court orders that have shaped the defense secretary’s thinking about transgender people serving in the military.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff additionally had raised concerns about kicking out transgender troops who already were serving honorably.

The defense secretary’s new deployment policy makes it unlikely, though, the Pentagon would continue paying for genital reconstruction surgery since the recovery time is often longer than a year.

Fox News previously reported that the official announcement about transgender policy is expected from the White House no later than March 23, according to officials.

Last summer, the Pentagon was caught by surprise when Trump tweeted that transgender troops were no longer welcome in the military “in any capacity.”

The order later was blocked in federal court.

The Pentagon began allowing transgender recruits to seek enlistment on Jan. 1.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.