Biden throws out Trump transgender military ban
Through an executive order, President Joe Biden has overturned the Trump transgender military ban, a controversial legacy of the previous administration against the LGBTQ community.
This ban prevents trangender people from serving in the US military and is in fulfillment of a campaign promise.
Biden reverses Trump transgender military ban
Biden signed the order at the Oval Office with his new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Speaking to reporters, Biden said that “transgender personnel, if qualified in every other way, can serve their government in the United States military.”
After the signing, the president tweeted: “It’s simple: America is safer when everyone qualified to serve can do so openly and with pride.”
Biden’s order directs the heads of Defense and Homeland Security to immediately prohibit denying a military member from continuing to serve based on gender identity.
The executive order stated that “there is substantial evidence that allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military does not have any meaningful negative impact on the Armed Forces.”
Transgender people serving in the US military
It was former president Barack Obama who allowed transgender people to serve openly and receive medical care to transition genders in 2016.
However, former president Donald Trump stopped their recruitment though he allowed serving personnel to stay. He then announced a ban in 2017 with a series of tweets on Twitter.
Trump said that the military needed to focus on “decisive and overwhelming victory” and should not be burdened by “tremendous medical costs and disruption” brought about by transgender personnel.
This was later made official in a presidential memo but was blocked by federal courts. When the ban came into effect in 2019, the US Supreme Court allowed the Trump transgender policy to stay.
Rand Corp, a policy research institute, estimated in 2016 that there were about 2,450 active service members who were transgender. The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated there were 15,500 in 2014.
Support for reversal of Trump transgender military ban
Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ rights groups in the US, applauded the move by Biden.
Its president, Alphonso David, said: “The greatest military in the world will again value readiness over bias, and qualifications over discrimination.”
Likewise, Austin told Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at his Senate confirmation hearing: “I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban.”
Austin further said that, “if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And, you can expect that I will support that throughout.”
In relation to this, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, called for “a provision to this year’s defense policy bill to secure a permanent policy of nondiscrimination for our armed forces.”