President Joe Biden signed an order Monday reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender individuals from serving in the military.
The new order, which Biden signed in the Oval Office during a meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, overturns a ban ordered by President Donald Trump. Biden’s order says that gender identity should not be a bar to military service.
America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive. The military is no exception,” the order says. “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, its the right thing to do and is in our national interest. Biden also posted the same on his official Twitter handle.
Today, I repealed the discriminatory ban on transgender people serving in the military. It’s simple: America is safer when everyone qualified to serve can do so openly and with pride.— President Biden (@POTUS) January 25, 2021
Biden's move was hailed by many on social media as they felt it was a great injustice done to the transgender community by depriving them of the choice to want to serve their country.
That is amazing! Definitely one of the worst things Trump did during his presidency. We shouldn’t discriminate based on who people are— Natalia Stornello (@NStornello25) January 25, 2021
To anyone who has an issue with Transpersons serving in our Military & defending our Country; please see the attached photo. pic.twitter.com/v1eJnakl5c— Dori Z. Sahagian (@DoriSahagian) January 25, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. You said you would have our backs, and you do. Grateful for your leadership.— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) January 25, 2021
Thank you!! It was such a mean-spirited and divisive action on the part of the previous administration. Since ours is a volunteer army, my appreciation to ANYONE who serves, defends this great country, and protects my freedoms 🇺🇸— Jeffrey M. Cohen (@votejeffmcohen) January 25, 2021
Thank you President Biden. All transgender people want is the same opportunities as everyone else. Today you've moved us a step closer to that goal.— Robyn Gigl (@robyngigl) January 25, 2021
This mama bear is thankful for your swift action to protect trans kids.— Rachel Drouillard (@red2007) January 25, 2021
Thank you Mr. President! This should have never been instituted to begin with. It was one of his first of many promises not kept.— 🖤Carly Lehwald (@CarlyELehwald) January 25, 2021
The order directs the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to take steps to implement the order for the military and the Coast Guard. And it says they must reexamine the records of service members who were discharged or denied reenlistment due to gender identity issues earlier.
The policy has seen a few changes over the year. Up until a few years ago service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender, but that changed during the Obama regime. In 2016, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that transgender people already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly.
After Trump took office, however, his administration delayed the enlistment date and called for additional study to determine if allowing transgender individuals to serve would affect military readiness or effectiveness.
A few weeks later, Trump caught military leaders by surprise, tweeting that the government wouldn’t accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the military. He elaborated on his decision by saying that "military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened" by additional costs of surgery and other needs of the people serving.
however, in 2019, after a long drawn legal battle, the Defense Department in April 2019 agreed to the new policy but did not allow a full ban. It however prevented transgender troops and military recruits from transitioning to another sex and said most individuals to serve in their birth gender.
As of 2019, an estimated 14,700 troops on active duty and in the Reserves identify as transgender, but not all seek treatment.
(With inputs from Associated Press)