US President, Joe Biden has reversed Donald Trump’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military.
The White House announced the new executive order, which fulfills Biden’s campaign promise to undo Trump’s transphobic policy.
“President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” a press release from the White House reads.
“All Americans who are qualified to serve in the armed forces of the United States should be able to serve. The all-volunteer force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security.”
According to the White House, the executive order “immediately prohibits involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity.”
The new policy emphasizes that “all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination.”
The executive order also requires officials to find the records of any troops who were kicked out of the military because of their gender identity, and correct their military records, meaning dishonorable discharges could be switched to honorable.
While lawmakers celebrated the change, some advocates warned that Congress must enact laws to ensure a ban isn’t reinstated by a future administration. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, promised to push for such a provision in defense legislation.
“We must make sure that future presidents do not backslide on our values of equality and inclusion, and I intend to add a provision to this year’s defense policy bill to secure a permanent policy of nondiscrimination for our armed forces,” Speier said in a statement.
Advocacy groups also applauded the decision on Monday. Emma Shinn, president of the Modern Military Association of America’s transgender advocacy arm, said Biden’s restoration of open service policy “closes a dark chapter of history.”
“I am elated that the approximately 15,000 transgender service members proudly serving across the globe can rest easier knowing that their service to our nation is seen, valued and that they can continue to serve as their authentic selves,” she said.