President Biden followed through on a pledge to repeal Trump's ban on transgender military service with an executive order he signed this morning.
Saying that anyone who is physically fit to serve should be allowed to, Biden ordered Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to implement the policy and report their progress within two months.
From USA Today:
"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," according to a statement from the White House. "Simply put, it’s the right thing to do and is in our national interest."
The move to reverse the policy has the support of Biden’s newly confirmed defense secretary, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, who spoke of the need to overturn it during his Senate confirmation hearing last week.
“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said. “If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve.”
Legally and logistically, this should be relatively easy to implement because the Obama-era Department of Defense already did all the legwork.
The Department of Defense studied the issue under President Obama and concluded that allowing transgender people to openly serve in the military would not harm unit cohesion or readiness. Trump banned transgender military service on behalf of former Vice President Mike Pence and the religious fundamentalists who supported both of them, not because transgender service poses a threat to the military. Trump's ban was never based on anything more than social discrimination.
We may see conservative legal pushback to the new (old?) policy, but it's difficult to fathom that they will find someone with the legal standing to challenge it. Moreover, the Supreme Court has already ruled that discrimination based on gender identity is illegal in the workplace and the military is one of the biggest employers in the world.
Practically speaking, this will open a significant doorway to poor or disadvantage trans people who don't have the resources to medically transition on their own. I think receiving health care that is appropriate for them in exchange for signing their life away to the military is a fair exchange. Using military service as a pathway out of poverty is not ideal and shouldn't be necessary, but it has long been an option for other demographics and now it will be for transgender Americans.