Saturday, May 8, 2021

Biden signs executive order lifting Trump’s transgender military ban

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Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Joe Biden just signed an executive order to reverse a Trump-era ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.

“This is reinstating a position that previous commanders and, as well as secretaries, have supported,” Biden said from the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. “And what I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform and essentially, restoring the situation there was before where transgender personnel, if qualified in every other way, can serve government in the United States military.”

The move, one of Biden’s key 2020 campaign promises, came during a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin, the nation’s first Black secretary of defense. Harris, Milley, and Austin flanked Biden with social distancing, each wearing a mask.

The executive action revokes Trump’s 2018 presidential memorandum and also confirms the revocation of the presidential memorandum of August 25, 2017.

Before signing the order, he thanked Harris and Milley for their “great, great help,” as well as Austin.

The executive order “sets the policy that all Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve,” per the White House.

Some background on the ban: The policy, which has been roundly derided by LGBTQ activists as cruel and irrational, was first announced by Trump in July 2017 via Twitter. The ban specifically blocks individuals who have been diagnosed with a condition known as gender dysphoria from serving with limited exceptions.

It also specifies that individuals without the condition can serve, but only if they do so according to the sex they were assigned at birth.

While Trump had argued that transgender troops in the military would lead to “tremendous medical costs and disruption,” a 2016 Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Defense Department concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs.

Hear what Biden said before signing the order:

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