Photo By Diego González via Unsplash

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 25 reversing the Pentagon’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Biden signed the order with new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Vice President Harris by his side.

This executive order restores the protections originally put into place by former President Barack Obama, which opened the ranks of the armed services to qualified transgender people.

The order:

  • Fully repeals two different orders Trump signed barring transgender individuals from serving in the military.
  • Immediately bans the discharge or denied re-enlistment of transgender individuals for the gender identity.
  • Orders the Department of Defense to correct the records of those who were dismissed from service due to their gender identity. 
  • Requires both the secretary of defense and the secretary of homeland security to begin the process of allowing transgender individuals to serve openly. 

Biden stated this order would allow “all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform.”

He is also requesting progress reports on implementing this executive order from the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security within 60 days.

There were 8,980 active duty transgender troops in 2019, according to Department of Defence data analysed by the Palm Center, a non-profit group. Other advocacy groups say this number could be as high as 15,000 individuals.

Former President Trump initially ordered the ban on transgender people in the military in a series of tweets from 2017.

“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 U.S. military,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

A 2014 report from the Palm Center explains that the administration’s concern was that a person’s gender dysphoria would interfere with their ability to serve since it can lead to depression and anxiety. The cost to treat these conditions would be too high and disrupt the military’s operations. However, Palm Center also reports that this reasoning was based on “incorrect and outdated medical rationale.”

Trump’s ban went into effect in April 2019. Transgender individuals already serving were allowed to continue, but the new recruits were let go.

Biden’s transition team released a memo ahead of his inauguration saying that Biden planned to use his first full week as president “to advance equity and support communities of color and other underserved communities.”

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Written ByJasmine Perry

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