LGBT rights groups are applauding
President Joe Biden's executive order reversing former President
Donald Trump's ban on transgender troops.
Biden signed the order on Monday.
“What I'm doing today is enabling all
qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform,” Biden said
from the Oval Office before signing the order.
Restrictions on transgender people
serving openly in the armed forces were lifted in 2016. But Trump, in
a series of tweets in July 2017, 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
During the 2020 presidential campaign,
Biden promised he would reverse Trump's ban.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, said that the military would
once again “value readiness over bias, and qualifications over
“For years, transgender patriots were
forced to continue to hide their identity while serving in our
military,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “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.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of
the LGBT media watchdog GLAAD, said that her organization “salutes
transgender service members, their courage and their sacrifice.”
“The American people, military
leaders, and service members themselves, all overwhelmingly support
transgender military service,” Ellis said in a statement. “They
know that brave trans patriots have served throughout history and
continue to serve honorably and capably, defending our country. 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.”
Shannon Minter, legal director at the
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), said that Biden's order
“allows us to put this shameful episode behind us and marks the
beginning of a much brighter era in which military service is once
again based on a person's qualifications, not on who they are.”
“Transgender people have proved their
fitness to serve and ask nothing more than the opportunity to do so
based on the same standards that apply to others,” Minter said.
“This is a great day for our nation and a welcome relief from the
negative and divisive policies of the past four years.”
Biden's order sets up a 60-day deadline
for the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security to
produce a report for the White House on how changes could be
implemented. It remains unclear when transgender people will be
allowed to enlist in the military without barriers.