Washington, Jan 25 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States on Monday overturned a policy instituted by his predecessor that required transgender individuals in America’s armed forces to serve under their biological sex.
Joe Biden signed an executive order that “sets the policy that all Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve,” a White House fact sheet reads.
“President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” the text said. “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.”
Biden’s move reverses a directive that his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, issued in March 2018.
It also directs the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Coast Guard, to ensure that all of their directives, orders, regulations and policies are consistent with the executive order.
The order furthermore directs an immediate start to the identification and examination of the records of service members who “have been involuntarily separated, discharged or denied reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity, as well as the correction of the military records.”
Biden pledged during his election campaign to repeal Trump’s transgender policy and said it would be one of his priorities on “Day 1,” although it was not part of a series of executive orders he signed hours after his inauguration last Wednesday.
The administration of former head of state Barack Obama, whose vice president was Biden, lifted a ban on transgender troops in the US military in 2016.
But Trump announced in a series of tweets in July 2017 that he planned to bar all transgender people from serving in the Armed Forces, saying their presence entails “tremendous medical cost and disruption” and diverts the military’s attention away from what must be “decisive and overwhelming victory.”
In March 2018, Trump issued a memorandum to his defense secretary disqualifying from military service transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria (a distressed state arising from conflict between a person’s gender identity and the sex the person has or was identified as having at birth).
After court challenges and a January 2019 narrow ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the Trump administration’s directive, the Defense Department released a new policy two months later that allowed transgender individuals to enlist in the military on condition that they serve in their biological sex.
That policy was not retroactive, meaning that transgender individuals who joined the military in their preferred gender or were diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the 2018 policy took effect were exempt from the new policy and allowed to serve in their preferred gender.
Citing Defense Department data, the Palm Center, a California-based public policy think tank, said in 2018 that there were 8,980 active duty transgender troops in the US Armed Forces. EFE-EPA