After previously pledging to overturn Donald Trump’s trans military ban on his first day in office, US president Joe Biden could reverse it today, sources say.
The White House will announce that Biden has issued an executive order overturning the Pentagon’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the military as soon as Monday, 25 January, sources told the AP.
Joe Biden is also scheduled to hold a swearing-in ceremony today for new defence secretary Lloyd Austin, who supports reversing the ban on trans troops.
During his Senate hearing on 19 January, Austin – who will become the first Black defence secretary in US history – said that he supports trans people being in the military.
“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,” he said.
Amid a wave of anti-LGBT+ policies, Donald Trump first announced on Twitter in July 2017 that he would be banning trans people from serving in the military. The ban came into force in April 2019 following a series of legal challenges, and plunged trans service people into uncertainty and fear in the process.
Writing on Twitter at the time, Trump said: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Trump claimed his policy was not an outright ban on trans troops serving, but it meant that a trans person could only enlist if they served in the gender they were assigned at birth.
Serving trans troops were permitted to remain in the forces, but trans service people who came out as trans after the policy was brought in were not permitted to transition.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on 20 January that, while the transgender troops ban wasn’t one of the Biden administration’s first 15 actions, it would be among the “additional executive actions” that will be taken “in the coming days and weeks“.
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