Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
President Joe Biden signs a number of executive orders alongside new Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Biden follows through again and lifts the transgender ban on military service

The ban was enacted by Biden’s predecessor in January of 2019.


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On July 26, 2017, then-former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted, “Every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve. Full stop.” 

On Jan. 25, he acted on that sentiment and signed an executive order to repeal the ban on most transgender Americans joining the military alongside newly-appointed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

The controversial ban enacted by Trump in January 2019, kept transgender troops from serving openly in the military and blocked all use of “DoD or DHS resources to fund sex reassignment surgical procedures.” 

The ban was strongly opposed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives as well as LGBTQ activists. 

The House passed a resolution in March 2019, describing it as discriminatory and saying it was based on “flawed scientific and medical claims.” 

“This is reinstating a position that the previous commanders and, as well as the secretaries, have supported. And what I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform,” Biden said before signing the order.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that cases in which members were discharged from the military due to their gender identity would be re-examined. 

“President Biden believes gender identity should not be a bar to military service and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” she said. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke in support of Biden’s decision during his confirmation hearing on Friday Jan. 22. 

“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,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.  

VoteVets, a group of “progressive veterans in America,” released a statement Monday, claiming that Trump’s previous ban was an insult to “our professional military.” 

Patricia King, the first openly-transgender person to serve as an infantry soldier, said in the statement that the “transgender community has been told once again that we can serve the nation we love, we can be heroes and that we belong everywhere that life is lived.” 

Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David also commended the president’s move. 

“The greatest military in the world will again value readiness over bias, and qualifications over discrimination,” he said in a statement. “Transgender patriots can now live and serve openly as themselves.” 

The Trump policy led to a number of lawsuits, many from transgender people who sought to join the military but found themselves blocked. Nicolas Talbott, an aspiring service member involved in one of those lawsuits, was also elated with the news.

“It is my highest goal to serve my country in the U.S military and I’ve fought this ban because I know that I am qualified to serve,” he said. “I’m thrilled and relieved that I and other transgender Americans can now be evaluated solely on our ability to meet military standards.” 


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