During his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, General Lloyd Austin, President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Defense Department, said that he supports open transgender military service.

It was the first time Austin has publicly expressed his support.

Austin made his comments in response to questioning from New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat.

“I support the plan to overturn the ban,” he said. “I truly believe that if you're fit and you're qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve.”

In 2016, the Obama administration lifted restrictions on transgender people serving openly in the armed forces.

In a series of tweets in July 2017, President Donald Trump declared that the military would no longer “accept or allow” transgender troops to serve “in any capacity.” After several setbacks in lower courts, the administration modified its policy to allow transgender troops to serve provided they do so as the sex they were assigned at birth. Troops who came out while the old policy was in place were grandfathered in.

The Supreme Court allowed the administration to begin implementation of the policy even as four challenges to the ban are pending in federal courts.

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden promised to reverse the ban.

“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,” Biden told LGBTQ Nation on the ninth anniversary of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. “If I have the privilege of serving as the next commander in chief, I will ensure that our American heroes know I will have their back and honor their sacrifice – always, no matter who they are or who they love.”