WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday reversing former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people enlisting in the U.S. military.
The repeal, a Biden campaign promise, allows the Pentagon to revoke regulations that limit how transgender troops can serve in the military.
Currently, transgender troops are allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military only if they were covered by the 2016 policy carried out by Obama Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
In 2017, Trump tweeted that he would no longer allow “transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” Trump’s first Defense secretary, James Mattis, issued a compromise that grandfathered in some service members but required that new recruits serve in their original birth gender.
“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.
Biden’s Defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, has backed the move.
“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin told lawmakers last week at his Senate confirmation hearing.
“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. And you can expect that I will support that throughout,” Austin said. The Senate confirmed Austin on Friday.
Biden has nominated Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine to serve as assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. If confirmed by the Senate, Levine would be the first-ever Senate-confirmed transgender official in U.S. history.