Pentagon allows transgender troops to re-enlist

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FILE PHOTO:U.S President Donald Trump salutes a Marine during a departure from the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files - RTX3CZXI

New guidance released Friday by the Pentagon makes it clear that any transgender troops currently in the military can re-enlist in the next several months, even as the department debates how to enforce a ban on their service ordered by President Donald Trump.

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says in a memo that a high-level panel will determine how to implement Trump's ban on transgender individuals in the military. Trump directed the military to indefinitely extend the ban on transgender individuals enlisting in the service, but he left it up to Mattis to decide if those currently serving should be allowed to stay.

Members of Congress have already sent a letter to Trump calling on him to reconsider the ban.

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Sen. John McCain says he's backing a bill that would bar the Trump administration from forcing transgender troops out of the armed forces.

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In a statement Friday, the Arizona Republican says any service member, including those who are transgender, who meets the military's standards should be permitted to serve.

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President Donald Trump in August ordered the Pentagon to extend indefinitely a ban on transgender individuals joining the military. He also gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis six months to come up with a policy on "how to address" those currently serving, leaving the door open to permitting their continued service.

The legislation McCain supports would ensure they're not kicked out.

The bill's other sponsors are Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Susan Collins of Maine and Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

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