Biden overturns Trump's ban on transgender service members in the US military

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Ryan Pickrell
·3 min read
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The Pentagon project has been highly controversial
The Pentagon Getty
  • The White House announced Monday that President Joe Biden has reversed the Trump administration's military transgender ban.

  • The executive order signed Monday states that the president believes that "gender identity should not be a bar to military service."

  • The decision is supported by new Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Joe Biden has reversed the Trump administration's controversial ban largely prohibiting transgender people from serving in the US military.

The president signed an executive order on Monday stating that "all Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve." The order said that the president believes that "gender identity should not be a bar to military service," and directs the military to immediately cease all efforts to kick out transgender troops.

In July 2017, then-President Donald Trump tweeted that "after consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military."

The tweets blindsided US military leaders, who were not aware of the president's plans.

In August 2017, Trump signed a directive ordering the US military to reverse course on Obama-era plans to permit transgender people to serve openly in the armed forces. Prior to signing the memorandum, Trump told reporters that he was doing the military a "great favor."

In September of that year, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he did not support pushing transgender service members out of the military. He said that believed that "any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide-deployable and is currently serving, should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve."

In March 2018, following recommendations from then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Trump signed another memorandum that created a little bit of wiggle room for the Pentagon while still largely banning transgender people from military service.

Biden's latest executive order revokes previous presidential memorandums on transgender service and "immediately prohibits involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity."

The order also calls for the correcting of military records for transgender individuals who were affected by the actions of the Trump administration.

Defending the policy change, the White House pointed to a 2016 study that found that permitting transgender people to serve in the armed forces has a "minimal impact" on healthcare costs and readiness. The order also notes that the chiefs of the uniformed service branches testified before Congress in 2018 that they were not aware of any negative impacts on unit cohesion, discipline, and readiness.

The move to overturn the transgender ban is supported by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who was confirmed on Friday.

During his confirmation hearing, Austin told lawmakers that "if you're fit and you're qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve."

Following the signing of the executive order by the president Monday, Austin said in a statement that the Department of Defense "will immediately take appropriate policy action to ensure individuals who identify as transgender are eligible to enter and serve in their self-identified gender."

"These changes will ensure no one will be separated or discharged, or denied reenlistment, solely on the basis of gender identity. Prospective recruits may serve in their self-identified gender when they have met the appropriate standards for accession into the military services," he added. "This revised policy will also ensure all medically-necessary transition related care authorized by law is available to all Service members and will re-examine all cases of transgender Service members that may be in some form of adverse administrative proceedings."

"This is the right thing to do," Austin said. "It is also the smart thing to do."

Read the original article on Business Insider