Joe Biden has signed an executive order repealing the Trump-era ban on transgender persons serving in the military.
The new order prevents service members from being discharged on the basis of gender identity, and will allow them to serve under their preferred gender identity once their transition is complete, the AP reports. The new order also charges the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense with reviewing their records to identify servicemembers who were previously discharged due to their gender identity.
Biden campaigned on the promise to reverse the transgender ban. He waited to sign the order until the confirmation of his Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who supports reversing the ban.
“If you’re fit and you’re qualified and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve, and you can expect that I will support that throughout,” Austin said.
Multiple LGBTQ+ and rights groups have signaled their support of Biden’s move.
“This is a significant and hopeful moment for our country. Over the last 3 years, we’ve fought to prove that transgender people are not a burden, a hinderance, or a distraction — we are an equal and contributing part of this society, just as any other group, and this development vindicates that basic principle,” said Army Staff Sergeant Cathrine Schmid in a statement released today by Lambda Legal.
Annise Parker, President and CEO of the Victory Fund, also praised Biden’s move. “Trans servicemembers continued to serve our nation despite a president who disrespected their contributions and who reinstated discrimination for his own political gain,” she said in a statement. “With that stain on our nation removed, trans servicemembers will rise through the ranks and join the military in greater numbers, changing perceptions of trans people in the U.S. and around the world. Our history proves the military is strongest when it makes strides toward becoming more inclusive. Today will further that truth.”
The executive order is one of many Biden has issued in his first week in office that overturn Trump-era policies, and signal a dramatic shift in tone from the previous administration.