President Joe Biden (C), joined by Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, signs an executive order reversing a Trump era ban on transgender serving in the military, in the Oval Office at the White House on Monday. Pool Photo by Doug Mills/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 25 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Monday to repeal a ban issued by former President Donald Trump that prevented transgender persons from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.
In 2019, the Trump administration ordered that all military members must follow standards associated with their birth gender and prohibited those who have received transitional therapies from joining the military.
The new directive "immediately prohibits involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of re-enlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity."
"It is the policy of my administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation," Biden wrote in the order, which appeared in the Federal Register on Monday.
"It is also the policy of my administration to address overlapping forms of discrimination."
The White House said Biden's order sets a policy that "all Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve."
"President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America's strength is found in its diversity," it said in a statement.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he fully supports Biden's directive and the department will immediately implement policy to ensure those who identify as transgender are eligible to serve under their self-identified gender.
"This revised policy will also ensure all medically necessary transition-related care authorized by law is available to all service members and will re-examine all cases of transgender service members that may be in some form of adverse administrative proceedings," he said in a statement.
The U.S. Armed Forces is best equipped to protect the nation from foreign and domestic enemies when it represents the citizens it is sworn to defend, he said.
"I also believe we should avail ourselves of the best possible talent in our population, regardless of gender identity," he said. "We would be rendering ourselves less fit to the task if we excluded from our ranks people who meet our standards and who have the skills and the devotion to serve in uniform."
Susan R. Bailey, president of the American Medical Association, said they welcome the decision "because there is no medically valid reason to exclude" transgender individuals from the military.
"Transgender people have served our country with honor, and they should be allowed to continue doing so," Bailey said in a statement. "Ending this discriminatory policy is a win for all patriotic Americans who want to serve their country."
The reversal of the controversial Trump policy was widely expected once Biden took office.
Trump's order itself was a reversal of policy established by former President Barack Obama in 2016 that enabled transgender Americans to openly serve in the military.