WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed an order Monday reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender individuals from serving in the military.
The new order, which Biden signed in the Oval Office during a meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, overturns a ban ordered by President Donald Trump in a tweet during his first year in office. It immediately prohibits any service member from being forced out of the military on the basis of gender identity.
The decision comes as Biden plans to turn his attention to equity issues that he believes continue to shadow nearly all aspects of American life.
Ahead of his inauguration, Biden’s transition team circulated a memo saying Biden planned to use his first full week as president “to advance equity and support communities of color and other underserved communities.”
As he signed the order on Monday, Biden said, “What I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform.”
“America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive.
The military is no exception,” the order says. “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.”
The order directs the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to take steps to implement the order for the military and the Coast Guard.
And it says they must reexamine the records of service members who were discharged or denied reenlistment due to gender identity issues under the previous policy.