Officials at the Pentagon have announced new policies that will once again allow transgender troops to serve in the U.S. military.
Transgender people were barred from service by an executive order issued by former President Donald Trump in 2017. Trump announced the policy in a series of tweets, and he reportedly enacted it after Christian nationalist groups pressed for it. The move did not have the support of military officials.
President Joe Biden reversed Trump’s order shortly after taking office. On March 31, known as Trans Day of Visibility, the Pentagon announced it had finished updating its policies to clear the way for trans individuals to serve once again.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wrote, “Trans rights are human rights, and on this #TransDayOfVisibility, I’m pleased to announce we’ve updated DoD policy on the open service of transgender individuals. The update reinforces our prior decision to allow recruitment, retention, and care of qualified trans individuals.”
Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a group that opposed the ban, applauded the change in policy.
“The Pentagon has allowed open and authentic service by transgender Americans continuously for nearly five years now because many troops were grandfathered in even under the Trump ban,” Belkin said, “All the service chiefs and all the research make clear that inclusion has succeeded, and now the Biden administration has secured equal access for all transgender troops. This debate is over.”