Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Joe Biden signed an executive order lifting the transgender military ban. The action came on his fifth full day in office.
“President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity. America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive. The military is no exception. Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform is better for the military and better for the country because an inclusive force is a more effective force. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do and is in our national interest,” reads a White House statement released Monday, January 25, 2021.
The actual executive order Biden signed reads, “It shall be the policy of the United States to ensure that all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination.”
Attending the signing event was newly confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who said at his confirmation hearing that he supports the decision. “I truly believe … 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,” Austin said.
Former President Donald Trump announced in 2017 he planned to ban transgender people from serving in the military in “any capacity,” citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption” that he claimed comes with employing trans personnel, reported Huffington Post. The ban pandered to his conservative right-wing base.
The Trump policy, implemented in April 2019, stated that transgender people were only allowed to enlist in the military under the sex they were assigned at birth, an act that effectually banned trans people from joining the military, while forcing current trans service members back into the closet.