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First Openly Transgender Recruit Joins US Military

FILE - People hold up "equality flags" in support of transgender members of the military, on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 26, 2017.

The first openly transgender recruit has passed both the physical and medical exams and signed a contract to join the U.S. military, the Pentagon confirmed.

"[The Pentagon] confirms that as of Feb. 23, 2018, there is one transgender individual under contract for service in the U.S. military," said Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman.

The recruit was not immediately identified by gender or service.

Such a contract was made possible after a federal judge ruled in January that the military must accept transgender recruits. The ruling came after President Donald Trump announced in a tweet his desire to prevent transgender people from serving.

In July 2017, Trump surprised military leaders by tweeting, "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump said. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."

A number of federal judges — in Baltimore, Washington, Seattle and Riverside, California — issued rulings blocking Trump's ban. The judges said the ban would likely violate the right under the U.S. Constitution to equal protection under the law.

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

Advocates have said they believe dozens, if not hundreds, of transgender people will seek to join an estimated 4,000 already serving.