Donald Trump directs Pentagon to put 'indefinite ban' on transgender military recruits

Trump Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Donald Trump has directed the Pentagon to place an 'indefinite ban' on transgender people joining the US military.

It comes after the president signed a memorandum on Friday which officially told military officials not to move forward with a previous plan, put in place by the Obama administration, to allow transgender individuals to join.

The status of transgender individuals already in uniform however appeared unclear as the president left the decision about their future in the hands of his Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Mr Mattis will now have six months to come up with a policy on those currently serving.

The official direction to instigate the indefinite ban comes just a month after Mr Trump outlined his intention to reverse policy changes initiated under President Barack Obama which would have seen the armed forces begin to enlist openly transgender troops.

The policy had looked on shaky ground since Mr Trump won the election and Defence Secretary Mattis had already previously approved a six-month delay to Mr Obama's plan to start enlisting transgender recruits on July 2017.

It was just over a year ago, in June 2016, that then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced transgender individuals could serve openly for the first time as prior to that, most transgender people in the military had been forced to keep their status secret to avoid being discharged.

Since Mr Trump took over the presidency the policy over transgender recruits has been uncertain with the president casting doubt on individuals ability to serve by tweeting in June that the federal government "will not accept or allow" transgender individuals to serve "in any capacity" in the military.

Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., an Army combat veteran, appeared to openly criticise the plan, saying the Pentagon should not exclude people based on gender status.

"If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation.

"Anything else is not just discriminatory, it is disruptive to our military and it is counterproductive to our national security."