Biden signs order reversing Trump-imposed ban on transgenders serving in military

President Joe Biden signed an order on Monday lifting the ban on transgenders being able to serve in the U.S. military, reversing another policy implemented by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

“America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive. The military is no exception,” said White House officials in a news release announcing the reversal. “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.”


Biden’s order is expected to impact about 15,000 transgendered people currently in serving as well, according to WSOC-TV.

The ban, widely criticized by LGBTQ activists and groups, was initially announced by then-President Trump via Twitter in July 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. 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. Thank you,” Trump wrote at the time.

Specifically, his ban blocked Americans from serving who had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, with only limited exceptions. In addition, the ban said that those afflicted with the condition can enlist and serve, but they must do so as the genetic sex they were born with, CNN reported Monday.

The Obama administration approved a policy that would have allowed transgenders to openly serve, but it was still under review by the Defense Department when Trump issued his ban, in which he cited medical expenses associated with gender reassignment as well as disruption within the ranks.

In October 2017 in response to a lawsuit, a U.S. district court blocked the ban, as did a separate federal court in November of the same year.

“We disagree with the court’s ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps. Plaintiffs’ lawsuit challenging military service requirements is premature for many reasons, including that the Defense Department is actively reviewing such service requirements, as the president ordered, and because none of the plaintiffs have established that they will be impacted by current policies on military service,” Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said at the time, adding that the administration would appeal.

“The president’s directive is legal and promotes our national security,’ then-White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis ripped the president for the manner in which the ban was announced.

“A capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified tweet of new policy does not trump the methodical and systematic review by military stakeholders qualified to understand the ramifications of policy changes,” he wrote.

But in January 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Trump Administration could continue to restrict transgenders from enlisting as lower court challenges continued.

Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden would use executive authority to lift the ban early in his term, though CNN reports that the White House had no comment about doing so on Monday.

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Jon Dougherty

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