US President Donald Trump has signed a memorandum that bans some transgender people from US military service but rolls back the blanket ban he ordered last year.
The new directive adopts recommendations from Defence Secretary Jim Mattis that “transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition” cannot serve.
But it gives the Pentagon and other agencies some discretion in the matter.
The earlier blanket ban was blocked by federal judges.
The new memorandum says that transgender individuals with a history of gender dysphoria are barred from military service “except under certain limited circumstances”, reports BBC.
The Department of Defence (DoD) says those with gender dysphoria “experience discomfort with their biological sex, resulting in significant distress or difficulty functioning”.
The DoD had submitted a report to the president concluding that allowing those who questioned their gender identity to serve entailed “substantial risks” and could, by exempting them from existing physical, mental and sex-based standards, “undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion, and impose an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military effectiveness and lethality”.
It said the Obama administration’s decision to allow transgender individuals to serve in the military was largely based on a 2016 study by the Rand think-tank, which “contained significant shortcomings”.
The report found that allowing transgender people to serve openly would have a minimal impact on force readiness and healthcare costs.
The new policy approved by President Trump allows current transgender service members with gender dysphoria to continue serving if they were diagnosed after the Obama administration’s policy took effect.