Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Wiki
Joe Biden today reversed Donald Trump's ban on trans people serving in the US military, fulfilling a campaign promise.
The Democrat, who beat Trump in the polls to become US President last November and was inaugurated last week, signed an executive order on the matter today, according to reports.
Trump's ban on transgender people in the US army was allowed by the Supreme Court, after a series of escalating legal battles, in January 2019.
"President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service"
Biden signed an executive order today, with the White House issuing a fact sheet saying: "President Biden signs Executive Order Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform".
The fact sheet states: "President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America's strength is found in its diversity."
It adds: “Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform is better for the military and better for the country because an inclusive force is a more effective force. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do and is in our national interest."
"Readiness over bias, and qualifications over discrimination"
Responding to news of the ban, President of the Human Rights Campaign Alphonso David said: "For years, transgender patriots were forced to continue to hide their identity while serving in our military.
"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. The order follows the Biden administration’s commitment to LGBTQ equality, including the issue of a substantive LGBTQ executive order on Day One that implements the Supreme Court’s Bostock ruling.
"In the coming months, the Human Rights Campaign will work with the White House and Department of Defense to ensure open service proceeds smoothly and ensure every qualified patriot has an equal right to serve openly, free of discrimination."
"If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve"
Biden indicated during his campaign that he wished to restore Obama-era protections for trans people.
Meanwhile, new defense secretary Gen Lloyd Austin indicated his support for the move at his Senate hearing last week, saying: "If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve."
Trump first announced his ban on Twitter in July 2017.
He said at the time: "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. 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. Thank you. [sic]"
Biden's first week in office has also seen the contact form on the White House website change to offer they/them pronouns and a workplaces protections executive order that the Human Rights Campaign have called "most substantive, wide-ranging LGBTQ executive order in US history."
The Attitude 101 February issue featuring 101 LGBTQ trailblazers is out now.