Biden Repeals Trump-Era Ban On Transgender Troops
Updated at 11:37 a.m. ET
President Biden has repealed a controversial Trump-era ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.
Biden signed an executive order on the issue Monday morning, ahead of an Oval Office meeting with new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Vice President Harris.
"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 White House says in a fact sheet.
Biden had campaigned on overturning former President Donald Trump's ban. At his recent Senate confirmation hearing, Austin told lawmakers he supported the move.
"If you're fit and you're qualified to serve, and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve," Austin said.
Trump initially ordered a ban on transgender troops in a series of tweets in July 2017.
"After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military," Trump wrote on the online platform he has since been banned from.
Despite that claim, the announcement caught then-Defense Secretary James Mattis and the rest of Pentagon leadership by surprise.
The executive order Biden signed Monday will take several steps:
Biden is also asking for a progress report from both departments within 60 days.
The civil rights organization the Human Rights Campaign applauded Biden's move.
"For years, transgender patriots were forced to continue to hide their identity while serving in our military. But today ... they may live and serve openly as themselves," the group's president, Alphonso David, said in a statement. "The greatest military in the world will again value readiness over bias, and qualifications over discrimination."
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