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Joe Biden uses anniversary of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal to pledge to overturn Trump’s abhorrent trans military ban

Josh Milton September 21, 2020
Joe Biden has pledged to end Donald Trump's ban on trans people serving in the US Military. (Lee Celano/Getty Images)

Joe Biden has pledged to end Donald Trump's ban on trans people serving in the US Military. (Lee Celano/Getty Images)

On the nine-year anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Joe Biden took aim at the Trump administration’s abhorrent ban on trans troops serving in the US military.

In a statement published in LGBTQNation, the 77-year-old pledged to overturn the 2019 ban which followed months of litigation and was wrought by controversy.

The policy, Pentagon officials were at pains to stress at the time, does not discriminate or exclude based on gender identity.

Instead, it merely sees trans people being made to disavow their, uh, gender identity by not being able to use the uniforms, sleeping and bathroom facilities or pronouns of their, uh, gender identity. It’s fine for trans people to enrol, officials said, as long as they enlist as their assigned sex.

Biden reflected on an America that beamed with pride when it overturned Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, only for federal officials to enforce a ban of similar magnitude – one likewise pivoted not by logic or reason, but discrimination – years later.

Joe Biden: ‘As president, I will direct the department of defense to allow transgender service members to serve openly.’

Biden described the moment when, in 2011, then US president Barack Obama formally ended the 17-years-long policy that had stonewalled queer people from serving in the military, saying that as vice president at the time, it was a move he was “proud of”.

Years later, and Biden blasted now president Donald Trump for repealing the Obama-Biden era efforts to allow trans folk to serve.

“Generations of Americans, many of them LGBT+, have shed blood around the world in defence of our freedoms and to protect US vital interests,” he said.

Then Vice President Joe Biden talks with members of the Delaware Army National Guard 261st Signal Brigade. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Then Vice President Joe Biden talks with members of the Delaware Army National Guard 261st Signal Brigade. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“But instead of honouring them, resident Trump denigrates their sacrifice, calling our fallen service members ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’.

“He’s made clear he has no commitment to, or sense of, service, and no loyalty to any cause other than himself.

“Rather than put the national security interest of our country first, Trump reversed the Obama-Biden administration efforts to allow transgender personnel the right to serve and protect our nation.

“As president, I will direct the department of defense to allow transgender service members to serve openly, receive needed medical treatment, and be free from discrimination.”

Democrats quietly barred the Pentagon from funding the trans troops ban. 

Democratic lawmakers dealt Trump’s trans troops ban a devastating blow earlier this year when they blocked the use of Pentagon funds to implement the policy.

As much as officials have said that waivers can be granted to allow trans people to serve, in a report to Congress in June, the military said only a single waiver to allow a trans person to serve had been granted.

Just two were in consideration, and 19 people were medically disqualified from enlisting or commissioning as an officer because of the ban.

As much as activists have pleaded for government officials to curtail the ban, the department of defense has not budged. “The department is not considering adjusting existing policy,” the bureau said in April.

More: Don't Ask Don't Tell, Donald Trump, joe biden, presidential election 2020, trans troops ban, US

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