Joe Biden ends Trump’s monstrous trans military ban in momentous victory for LGBT+ rights
Just five days after taking office, the new president has acted to abolish one of the most toxic anti-LGBT+ policies imposed by his predecessor.
An executive order signed on Monday directs the Department of Defence to scrap the vile policy, which was announced by Donald Trump via tweet in 2017 without any consultation with military leaders.
Biden will revert to the procedures first put in place under the Obama administration that allows transgender service members to serve openly once again, prohibiting “involuntary separations, discharges and denials of re-enlistment… on the basis of gender identity.”
It also directs an immediate review of all actions taken under the Trump policy, ordering the correction of military records in cases where service personnel faced discrimination for being trans.
The White House said in a release: “President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity. This question of how to enable all qualified Americans to serve in the military is easily answered by recognizing our core values.
“America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive. The military is no exception. 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, it’s the right thing to do and is in our national interest.”
Trans military personnel are ‘thrilled and relieved’ to see Joe Biden ending the ban
The order will likely pave the way for a swift resolution of legal challenges brought against the policy on behalf of transgender service members and recruits.
Nicolas Talbott, an aspiring service member who sued for his right to join the military, said: “It is my highest goal to serve my country in the US military and I’ve fought this ban because I know that I am qualified to serve.
“I’m thrilled and relieved that I and other transgender Americans can now be evaluated solely on our ability to meet military standards. I look forward to becoming the best service member I can be.”
Staff sergeant Cathrine Schmid, a 15-year active servicemember of the US Army, said: “This is a significant and hopeful moment for our country. Over the last three years, we’ve fought to prove that transgender people are not a burden, a hindrance, or a distraction – we are an equal and contributing part of this society just as much as any other group, and this development vindicates that basic principle.
“This isn’t simply about our place in the military, or my place in my unit. It’s about our right to be treated as co-equal members of society. This harmful and backwards policy will now be put where it belongs: in a very short, shameful chapter of US military history.”
LGBT+ campaigners celebrate end to hateful policy
LGBT+ campaigners celebrated the news, which comes after Joe Biden issued a sweeping LGBT+ non-discrimination order and started work repealing harmful ‘freedom to discriminate’ rules put in place in the dying days of the Trump administration.
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Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings said: “This discriminatory ban cheapened the bravery and patriotism of transgender service members and transgender people seeking to serve. We are grateful to see president Biden take action to relegate it to the trash bin of history, where it belongs.”
Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said “For years, transgender patriots were forced to continue to hide their identity while serving in our military. But today, thanks to president Joe Biden, secretary Lloyd Austin, and pro-equality voters across America, they may live and serve openly as themselves.
“The government will begin the process to eliminate an arbitrary and discriminatory executive action that has not only harmed transgender service members but our entire military. The greatest military in the world will again value readiness over bias, and qualifications over discrimination.”
Trump abruptly announced a ban on transgender soldiers via Twitter in July 2017, making clear: “The United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military.”
The leader had cited the “tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail”, though the costs of catering to transgender troops amounts to just 0.0003 percent of the military’s annual budget.
A book later alleged that Trump had privately fumed at transgender soldiers getting “clipped” after reported discussions with Republican lawmakers who were seeking to push through an anti-trans budget measure. He reportedly made a snap decision on the issue without consulting the Pentagon – leading to a devastating impact on trans troops and recruits.