Early on Monday, January 25, President Joseph Biden signed an executive order repealing the Trump administration’s ban on transgender Americans serving openly in the U.S. military.
Biden’s order repeals Trump’s ban and also contains a provision that military records should be corrected if qualified service members were discharged or prohibited from re-enlisting due to their gender identity.
Numerous LGBTQ organizations and allies issued statements celebrating the reversal, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
“Today is a day of great hope and progress for thousands of heroes in our military and indeed for our entire country, as the Trump transgender ban is thrown into the trashbin of history. Led by President Biden, America is restoring our proud pledge: that no one with the strength and bravery to serve in the U.S. military should be turned away because of who they are.
“The Trump ban was a cruel and arbitrary decision designed to humiliate transgender Americans who have stepped forward to serve our country. The Biden-Harris Administration and Democratic Congress will continue to reverse this and other discriminatory actions that weaken our military readiness and betray our core American values.
“Democrats’ defense strategy will be dictated by the priorities of security, stability, peace and American values — not the hate and prejudice that defined the Trump presidency.”
National LGBTQ Task Force
“We are thrilled that today, following the swearing-in of the first Black secretary of defense General Lloyd Austin, President Biden signed an executive order overturning the discriminatory ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.
“Once again, qualified, dedicated transgender servicemembers and trans people who have waited to serve our country with honor and respect may bring their talents to every branch of the service.” —Rea Carey, Executive Director
The Human Rights Campaign
“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 servicemembers 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.” —Alphonso David, President
LGBTQ Victory Fund
“Trans servicemembers continued to serve our nation despite a president who disrespected their contributions and who reinstated discrimination for his own political gain. With that stain on our nation removed, trans servicemembers will rise through the ranks and join the military in greater numbers, changing perceptions of trans people in the U.S. and around the world. Our history proves the military is strongest when it makes strides toward becoming more inclusive. Today will further that truth.” —Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
“President Biden’s reversal of the Transgender Military Ban is a huge step towards full equality for the LGBTQ community and serves to make us stronger as a nation. It will allow transgender Americans who choose to serve to do so freely, safely, and honorably. With the confirmation of the nation’s first Black Secretary of Defense, General Lloyd Austin, our armed forces — across all ranks — are increasingly looking like the country they so valiantly protect. Their talents will make our military better.
“This reversal demonstrates that for the world’s largest employer, the US Defense Department, qualifications for a job should always supersede prejudice. This move will no doubt have reverberations across employers, many of which have invested in programs to support transgender and broader LGBTQ inclusion.
“Sadly, our struggle is not over. There are still politicians in this country who seem to think that transgender people, their rights and wellbeing, are props in some political game. Their continuing schemes to limit necessary healthcare and to keep transgender kids off of the sports fields are hateful and hurtful. We will continue to stand for the rights of transgender people. We will always stand for respect and for decency.” —Erin Uritus, CEO
“Today, those who believe in fact-based public policy and a strong, smart national defense have reason to be proud. The Biden administration has made good on its pledge to put military readiness above political expediency by restoring inclusive policy for transgender troops.
“The ban will now be replaced with a single standard for everyone that, as in the successful previous policy, will apply equally to all service members. This is a major step in the defense not only of America but of American values. We look forward to a speedy implementation of inclusive policy.” —Aaron Belkin, director
“GLAAD salutes transgender service members, their courage and their sacrifice. The American people, military leaders, and service members themselves, all overwhelmingly support transgender military service. They know that brave trans patriots have served throughout history and continue to serve honorably and capably, defending our country. By prioritizing an end to this discriminatory, unjustified ban, President Biden has fulfilled a campaign promise and is making our military stronger and more unified.” —Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO
National Center for Transgender Equality
“We knew when President Biden was elected that transgender people would have a friend and ally in the White House. The new president has made clear his commitment to ensuring that transgender Americans are treated fairly and with respect, and that we are able live our lives without fear of discrimination. Today’s action is one step forward and ensures that anyone who is willing to serve and is able to serve has that opportunity.
With President Biden, we know that our community will be seen and heard, we will not be erased, and we can begin to address the significant issues that transgender people face every day.” —Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality and the NCTE Action Fund
“Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, not only made our country less safe, but it was a cruel policy written up by a man who took every possible opportunity to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Like all members of our military, our transgender troops are patriots and deserve our respect and gratitude. Thank you, President Biden, for taking immediate action to reverse this shameful, and discriminatory policy.” —U.S. Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.), co-chairs of Equality PAC
Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund
“We applaud President Biden’s support of the U.S. military by embracing all qualified Americans who can and want to serve this country in the armed forces. This discriminatory ban weakened our military and deprived the nation of trained service members, which needlessly put our country at a disadvantage.
“Unlike the unjust policies created to target the LGBTQ+ community by the previous administration, President Biden’s executive order is grounded in facts instead of prejudice. Opportunity to patriotically serve one’s country should never be limited by gender identity or sexual orientation. Transgender people serve our country with honor and courage, many in combat, despite Donald Trump’s cruel and unfair and unnecessary ban.
“Transgender service men and women enlist with the same hopes and dreams for America’s security and prosperity. Their sacrifice is equally deserving of our respect, appreciation and admiration. The SPLC will continue to stand with all transgender and gender-nonconforming Americans — whether civilian or military — in the march toward dignity and equality for everyone in our nation.” —Scott McCoy, interim deputy legal director
National Black Justice Coalition
“We are elated that the ban against transgender people serving in the military has been overturned by the Biden/Harris administration. Anyone who is qualified to serve and wants to serve should be able to do so without discrimination. Prejudice and discrimination against the various identities that make a person who they are should never be justified or legalized by our government.
“For Black transgender people, much like the rest of the Black community, the military is often a gateway to an affordable or free education, and often provides a pathway out of poverty. Transgender people deserve to be respected and protected in every avenue of their lives, including their jobs. We applaud this decision to allow transgender people to live openly and freely as themselves, especially while working for one of the largest employers in the United States, and look forward to working with the Biden/Harris administration on furthering protections for our transgender siblings across the board.” —David Johns, executive director
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