WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order reversing former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgendered individuals openly serving in the U.S. military, according to reports.
Biden’s order “immediately prohibits involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity,” and also dictates that military records for any who had been subject to the Trump Administration ban should be “corrected.”
According to a statement released by the White House, Biden’s executive order establishes that all U.S. citizens “who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve.”
“President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” the statement said.
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Trump had originally tweeted his plan to ban transgendered individuals from military service in July 2017, stating that, “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.”
Following that announcement, the White House enacted a policy in August 2017 that transgendered individuals could not “openly” serve in the military, in addition to banning the military from paying for gender-reassignment surgery except in instances where someone has already begin the process of transitioning and was facing potential health-related complications.
Federal courts intervened and put a halt to the ban, but the Trump Administrating revised the policy and introduced a new version in March 2018 that stated “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.”
In April 2018 the courts again halted the ban due to several lawsuits being filed, but the Trump Administration successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to consider reinstating the ban in November 2018 while the cases were pending; the court voted 5-4 to do so, causing the ban go back into effect until it was lifted by President Biden on Monday.
According to a 2016 Department of Defense survey, approximately 8,980 of active duty troops – equal to one percent – were transgender.