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President Biden expected to lift Pentagon's ban on transgender people serving in the military

The newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will reportedly be on hand at the White House ceremony on Monday when the executive order is expected to be signed.

President Biden expected to lift Pentagon's ban on transgender people serving in the military
Cover Image Source: U.S. President Joe Biden signs an executive order as Vice President Kamala Harris looks on in the State Dining Room of the White House on January 22, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden is expected to soon repeal former President Donald Trump's ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Multiple people familiar with the matter confirm to ABC News that the 78-year-old will sign an executive order as early as Monday to lift the controversial ban. The policy — which has been strongly condemned by LGBTQ activists as cruel and irrational — was first announced by Trump via a tweet in July 2017 and took effect in April 2019, reversing the Obama administration's policy to permit open service by transgender Americans.


President Biden had previously expressed his intentions to repeal the ban during his presidential campaign, promising in May 2020 to direct the Pentagon to let transgender service members serve openly and free from discrimination in the military. "They can shoot as straight as anybody else can shoot," he said at the time. According to CNN, the ban specifically blocks individuals who have been diagnosed with a condition known as gender dysphoria, defined as "a marked incongruence between one's experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender... associated with clinically significant distress and impairment of functioning," from serving in the military, with limited exceptions.


It also specifies that individuals without the condition will be permitted to serve as long as they do so according to the sex they were assigned at birth. Under the policy, service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria were no longer allowed to receive medical surgeries for gender transition unless they were currently in the process of receiving medical treatment. Transgender individuals who had received hormones or medical surgery related to their transition were also barred from joining the military even if they could prove stability in their preferred gender.


Sources revealed that the newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will be on hand at the White House ceremony on Monday when the executive order will reportedly be signed. At his confirmation hearing last week Austin said he would support an effort to repeal the ban. "I support the president's plan to overturn the ban," Austin said on Tuesday when asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, "I truly believe, Senator, that as I said in my opening statement, 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." According to CBS News, the new order will direct the branches of the military to outline an implementation plan.


The move to overturn the transgender ban reflects Biden's attention to equity issues that he believes shadow nearly all aspects of American life. According to the Associated Press, a memo from Ron Klain — now the White House chief of staff — that was circulated by Biden’s transition team ahead of his inauguration, laid out Biden's plan to use his first full week as president "to advance equity and support communities of color and other underserved communities." It is also another example of him using executive authority in his first days as president to repeal several Trump-era policies.


Some of Biden's other early actions include orders to overturn a Trump administration ban on travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries, stop construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and launch an initiative to advance racial equity. Blake Dremann, a transgender advocate and an active-duty lieutenant commander in the Navy, is among those looking forward to the transgender ban's reversal. "We are excited for the ban to be lifted and we never have to tell another service member that being their authentic selves is a barrier to serving their nation," Dremann, who serves as treasurer of the LGBTQ military group Sparta, told NBC News in a statement. "The resilience and success of trans service members has shown we are committed to the success of the Nation."

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