President Biden repealed the ban on transgender troops serving in the military on Monday, rolling back an order from former President Trump that shocked Pentagon leaders.
The order fulfills a promise from Joe Biden to reverse the policy in his first days in office and could affect hundreds or even thousands of service members who were barred from serving openly.
The executive order also requires officials to find the records of any troops who were kicked out of the military because of their gender identity, and to correct their military records, meaning dishonorable discharges could possibly be switched to honorable.
“Simply put, transgender servicemembers will no longer be subject to the possibility of discharge or separation on the basis of gender identity [and] transgender servicemembers can serve in their gender when transition is complete,” according to a White House fact sheet on the order. “Transgender servicemembers should know that they are accepted throughout the U.S. military.”
“Individuals who are willing to put on the uniform of our country and risk their lives to defend our freedoms should be received with commendation, not prejudice,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a critic of the ban who pressed Austin on the issue at his confirmation hearing. “I’m proud that our armed services will once again embrace the principle that anyone who can meet military standards should be allowed to serve, regardless of gender identity.”
Lawmakers celebrated the repeal, some advocates told Congress that they must enact laws to ensure a ban will not happen again by a future administration. Rep. Jackie Speier, promised to push for such a provision in defense legislation.
The Supreme Court allowed the Trump Admin policy to remain in place as federal lawsuits filed by transgender troops continue to be heard.
The Obama administration spent nearly two years studying transgender service before ordering a 2016 policy that allowed those troops to serve openly and prohibited them from being discharged or separated based on their gender identity.
Sources: The Hill, USA Today, and Seattle Times; Photo: reason.com