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Biden overturns Trump's ban on transgender troops

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President Joe Biden on Monday overturned a controversial ban by his predecessor on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military.

Appearing with Vice President Kamala Harris, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, Biden signed the executive order in the Oval Office.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: “...restoring the situation as it existed before, with transgender personnel, if qualified in every other way, can serve their government in the United States military."

On Twitter Biden called the ban "discriminatory" and said "It’s simple: America is safer when everyone qualified to serve can do so openly and with pride."

During his confirmation hearing, Austin, Biden's pick to lead the Pentagon, said he supported overturning the ban.

In 2016, former Democratic President Barack Obama allowed trans people to serve openly and receive medical care to transition genders, but Republican President Donald Trump froze their recruitment while allowing serving personnel to remain.

When Trump announced the ban in 2017 on Twitter, he said the military needed to focus on "decisive and overwhelming victory" without being burdened by the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" of having transgender personnel.

Trump’s directive created uncertainty for thousands of transgender service members, many of whom came out after the Pentagon said in 2016 it would allow transgender people to serve openly.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump transgender policy of 2019 could stand while it faces separate lawsuits in lower courts.

A November 2020 report by the LGBT-rights think tank the Palm Center said the transgender ban had hurt military readiness.

A transgender man told Reuters that Biden's move Monday had given him and other transgender people an opportunity to once again join the military, adding quote: "This is such a huge relief, such a huge weight off my shoulders."

Video Transcript

- President Joe Biden on Monday overturned a controversial ban by his predecessor on transgendered individuals serving in the US military. Appearing with Vice President Kamala Harris, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, Biden signed the executive order in the Oval Office.

JOE BIDEN: Restoring the situation as it existed before, with transgender personnel, if qualified in every other way, can serve their government in the United States military.

- On Twitter, Biden called the ban, quote, "discriminatory" and said, quote, "It's simple-- America is safer when everyone qualified to serve can do so openly and with pride." During his confirmation hearing, Austin, Biden's pick to lead the Pentagon, said he supported overturning the ban. In 2016, former Democratic President Barack Obama allowed trans people to serve openly and receive medical care to transition genders.

But Republican President Donald Trump froze their recruitment, while allowing serving personnel to remain. When Trump announced the ban in 2017 on Twitter, he said the military needed to focus on, quote, "decisive and overwhelming victory" without being burdened by the, quote, "tremendous medical costs and disruption" of having transgender personnel.

Trump's directive created uncertainty for thousands of transgender service members, many of whom came out after the Pentagon said in 2016 it would allow transgender people to serve openly. The US Supreme Court ruled that the Trump transgender policy of 2019 could stand while it faces separate lawsuits in lower courts.

A November 2020 report by the LGBT rights think tank, the Palm Center, said the transgender ban had hurt military readiness. A transgender man told Reuters that Biden's move Monday had given him and other transgender people an opportunity to once again join the military, adding, quote, "This is such a huge relief, such a huge weight off my shoulders."