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Military members wait for decision on transgender recruits

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – Mia Mason calls the decision to accept transgender recruits a major victory for service members like her. Mason was born a man and began transitioning to a woman while serving.

“It’s worth seeing diversity. It’s worth seeing equal opportunity stay in our military,” Mason said.

The U.S. military began allowing transgender Americans to serve, beginning January 1. The decision came after President Donald Trump announced plans to ban openly transgender people from serving.

Civil Rights’ advocates say they’re encouraged that the military has agreed to sign up transgender recruits, but the future remains uncertain.

Military officials say the president’s order to rid the military of transgender people was put on hold.

Julieanna Goen and the National Center for Lesbian Rights were among Civil Rights groups fighting to allow transgender men and women to enlist.

“It’s a historic and overdue change,” Goen said.

Right now, an expert panel put together by Defense Secretary James Mattis is examining ways to address transgender service members. Administration officials say until that survey is complete, they’ll continue with Obama-era rules.

“We are going to go ahead and enforce it temporarily,” said Raj Smith, White House deputy press secretary.

Shah said based on a recommendation from Secretary Mattis, the administration will decide if changes are needed.

“So a new policy per the president’s directive will take shape sometime this year, and we expect that to be the policy of the Department of Defense,” Shah said.

That has Mason concerned.

“Which may ultimately end it all again. So it could be another legal fight for us,” Mason said.

President Trump is expected to receive recommendations about policies regarding transgender service members by the end of February.

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