President Joe Biden has signed an executive order reversing Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces, the White House announced Monday.
“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 White House said in a release. “All Americans who are qualified to serve in the armed forces of the United States should be able to serve. The all-volunteer force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security.”
Monday’s executive action was expected as Biden had previously vowed to reverse the Trump administration’s ban on transgender military troops.
According to the White House, 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.”
In the release, the Biden administration cited a 2016 Department of Defense study that found transgender individuals openly serving in the military would have “only a minimal impact on military readiness and healthcare cost” and “no significant impact on operational effectiveness or unit cohesion in foreign militaries.”
The president tweeted about his repeal of the ban on Monday.
The text of the executive order emphasizes that “It shall be the policy of the United States to ensure that all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination.”
It requires that the secretary of defense and secretary of homeland security (the department in charge of the Coast Guard) provide updates to the White House in 60 days about how they are implementing the new directive.
It also instructs each branch of the military to make “an immediate start to the identification and examination of the records of service members who have been involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity.”
“Where appropriate, the department concerned shall offer such individuals an opportunity to rejoin the military should they wish to do so and meet the current entry standards,” the order reads. Regardless of whether or not these individuals rejoin the military, each department is also required to go through all records to make sure that service members’ gender markers are correct.
Approximately 13,700 transgender service members were discharged when the ban went into effect in April 2019.
American LGBTQ advocacy groups applauded Monday’s executive action.
“By prioritizing an end to this discriminatory, unjustified ban, President Biden has fulfilled a campaign promise and is making our military stronger and more unified,” GLAAD said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
In a series of tweets about the ban’s reversal, the ACLU said they planned to “monitor the implementation of this action and work with the Biden administration to quickly eliminate any remaining barriers to full participation for transgender service members and our clients.”
In a statement, Transgender American Veteran Association (TAVA) President Ann Murdoch said that the organization celebrated that “transgender and gender nonconforming patriots” would be able to serve openly “without fear of politically driven discrimination.”