The United States Supreme Court has allowed President Donald Trump to enforce his policy of banning certain transgender people from the military.
The court voted 5-4 to grant a Trump administration request to lift injunctions blocking the policy while challenges continue in lower courts.
The four liberal judges on the court opposed the ruling.
The policy prohibits “transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition” from serving.
The president announced on Twitter in 2017 that the country would no longer “accept or allow” transgender Americans to serve in the military, citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption”.
Former defence secretary Jim Mattis refined the policy to limit it to transgender individuals with a history of gender dysphoria, and it makes exceptions for several hundred transgender people already serving openly or willing to serve “in their biological sex”.
Several trial judges around the country had issued injunctions blocking it.
The move is a reversal of an Obama administration policy that ruled transgender Americans could serve openly in the military as well as obtain funding for gender re-assignment surgery.
Gender dysphoria is when a person’s biological sex and identity does not match.
There are currently some 8,980 active duty transgender troops,
according to Department of Defence data analysed by the Palm Center, a public policy nonprofit.
While Mr Trump’s rationale for banning transgender troops was financial, according to estimates by the RAND Corporation, a policy think tank working with the US Armed Forces, transition-related healthcare costs are between $2.4m (£1.8m) and $8.4m per year.
In 2017, defence data viewed by the Palm Center indicates that cost was in fact lower, at $2.2m.