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President Donald Trump did it again, dropping another controversial decision on Friday night when the news cycle dies down.

Deep into a Friday night, Trump, a man who has never served in the armed forces, chose to push ahead with his ban on transgender people serving in the military.

The White House said transgender individuals with a history of gender dysphoria, defined as "those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery", would be disqualified from military service "except under certain limited circumstances".

In a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, she explained that the president rescinded his previous ban on all transgender individuals in the military - a move that has been held up in court since its inception - in order to defer to Mattis' policies.

Trump's new order allows the defense secretary and the homeland security secretary to "exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals".

Earlier Friday, Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said the announcement of a new policy would have no immediate practical effect on the military because the Pentagon is obliged to continue to recruit and retain transgender people in accordance with current law.

Jennifer Levi, a transgender right project director for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders said in a statement, "This Trump-Pence plan categorically bans transgender people from service, with no legitimate basis".

In a memo to the president, dated February 22, Mattis cited "substantial risks" about military personnel who seek to change or who question their gender identity.

Under the latest guidelines, the Pentagon can disqualify potential recruits unless a medical provider certifies that they have been clinically stable in their preferred sex for 18 months, and are free of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas. "This policy is not based on an evaluation of new evidence".

Citing threats to troop readiness and morale, as well as costs associated with medical services, Trump said in a series of tweets in July that he would reverse President Barack Obama's policy allowing transgender people to join the armed forces.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization, accused the Trump administration of pushing "anti-transgender prejudices onto the military". Mattis said that he found a Rand Corp. study - commissioned by the Pentagon under Obama that became a backbone of the repeal process - to be flawed.

Two federal judges subsequently ruled against the transgender recruiting ban, and that prompted the Pentagon to allow transgender individuals to enlist starting on Jan.1, 2018.

Mr Trump's policy reversed the Pentagon's 2016 decision to allow transgender individuals to serve. Since then, at least one transgender service member underwent sex reassignment surgery.

As the new plan will be challenged in court, like Trump's full ban was last summer, it's unclear when these changes will take effect.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland, who was featured in a 2015 documentary about transgender troops, posted a March 23 Facebook message saying that he will continue to serve as long as he can.