A federal appeals court in Virginia has rejected a bid by US President Donald Trump's administration to prevent the military from accepting transgender recruits from next year.
The Trump administration had urged the appeals court to suspend an order by a federal judge in Baltimore for the armed forces to begin accepting transgender recruits on January 1.
The administration has said the January 1 start date was causing the armed forces to scramble to revise their policies at the risk of harming military readiness.
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In a brief two-paragraph order, the three-judge panel of the Richmond-based fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals said it was denying the administration's request while the appeal proceeds.
Several transgender service members filed the suit in Maryland after Mr Trump said in July he would ban transgender people from the military, a move that would reverse a policy of the Republican president's Democratic predecessor Barack Obama to accept them. Mr Trump cited concern over military focus and medical costs.
So far, three federal judges around the country have issued injunctions blocking Mr Trump's ban. His administration has appealed all three rulings.
The Obama administration had set a deadline of July 1 of this year to begin accepting transgender recruits. But Mr Trump's defence secretary, James Mattis, postponed that date to January 1, which the president's ban then put off indefinitely.