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Court Backs Curbs on Transgender Military Service 

Gender Justice League executive director Danni Askini speaks during a press conference following oral arguments in a case to block a transgender military ban at the U.S. Western District Federal Courthouse on March 27, 2018, in Seattle.

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a Trump administration policy of restricting transgender people from serving in the military.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Friday that a lower court judge was wrong to block the Pentagon from implementing its plan to limit transgender people in the military.

The lower-court judge had ruled the Trump policy most likely violated the constitutional rights of transgender recruits and service members.

Pentagon pleased with decision

However, in ruling for the Trump administration's position, the appeals court said Friday that the military policy "appears to permit some transgender individuals to serve in the military.'' It also said the plan relied on the "considered professional judgment" of "appropriate military officials."

Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell told VOA that the Department of Defense was "pleased with the D.C. Circuit's decision."

"As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity. It is critical that the department be permitted to formulate personnel policies that it determines are necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat-effective fighting force in the world," Maxwell said.

Friday's ruling will not allow the Pentagon to implement its policy immediately, because other judges have issued rulings blocking the administration's policy in similar cases.

The Trump administration has already asked the Supreme Court to take up the case.

The Department of Defense "is consulting with the Department of Justice on next steps in the litigation. We look forward to continuing to press our case in the courts," Maxwell said.

Trump reverses policy

The Pentagon changed its policy regarding transgender people in 2016 under then-President Barack Obama, allowing them to serve openly in the military. But when President Donald Trump came to power, his administration reversed the policy and reinstated a ban on transgender troops.

Several courts ruled against that ban, leading the Trump administration to modify its policy, which now states that most transgender troops are banned from serving in the military except under limited circumstances, including individuals who serve "in their biological sex'' and who "do not seek to undergo gender transition."

Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report.