President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Monday to lift what NBC News called “Trump’s transgender military ban.”
During his presidential campaign, Biden promised to reverse the ban, enacted by his predecessor, immediately upon becoming president.
Biden waited to reverse the Trump-era policy until his Defense secretary, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, was ceremonially sworn in, The Hill reported. Austin was officially sworn in on Friday afternoon after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate earlier in the day.
During his confirmation hearing, Austin expressed his support of Biden’s plan to reverse Trump’s policy on transgender individuals in the military.
“I support the president’s plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said, according to Breitbart. “I truly believe, senator, as I said in my opening statement, that if you are fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve.”
The administration of former President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Biden first implemented the policy that allowed transgender individuals to openly serve in the military beginning in June of 2016.
In an announcement of a reversal of that policy in 2017, Trump tweeted: “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.”
In 2019, after the ban was permitted to stand in a 5–4 ruling of the Supreme Court, the Pentagon announced the implementation of the policy that required those serving in the military to identify by their biological gender during their service. Those who were openly transgender and already serving could continue to serve under the policy, NBC reported.
The new policy also blocked military funding from paying for sex reassignment surgeries.
Biden’s executive order directs the secretaries of the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security to take “all necessary steps to ensure” that all “directives, orders, regulations, and policies” comply with the order. Cabinet members have been ordered to brief Biden on their progress in 60 days, according to the Washington Examiner.
“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 statement following the order, according to Axios.
“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,” the statement continued. “Simply put, it’s the right thing to do and is in our national interest.”