Skip to main content

In New Executive Order, Joe Biden Sends Trump Administration Ban of Transgender People from Serving in Military to ‘Trash Bin of History’


President Joe Biden, by executive order, rescinded the Trump administration’s ban of transgender people from serving in the U.S. military on Monday.

“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 said in a statement.

The executive order rescinds Donald Trump’s orders, prohibits “involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to their gender identity,” orders the military to correct records of those who were barred from reenlisting or involuntary discharged, and orders the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to “report to [Biden] within 60 days of the date of this order on their progress in implementing the directives in this order and the policy described in section 1 of this order.”

“Where appropriate, the department concerned shall offer such individuals an opportunity to rejoin the military should they wish to do so and meet the current entry standards,” the order says.

Civil rights groups, including the ACLU and Lambda Legal, celebrated the move.

“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. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you,” then-President Trump tweeted from his then-Twitter account on July 26, 2017.

Litigation followed. Ryan Karnoski, a transgender man and mental health clinician who wanted to serve in the military, sued the former administration. Karnoski claimed Trump instituted the ban to appease his political supporters and failed to engage in “any meaningful study, deliberation, or consultation with key military officials.”

Lambda Legal, the “oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people,” represented Karnoski.

The group said in a statement on Monday that it was “grateful to see President Biden take action to relegate [the discriminatory ban] to the trash bin of history, where it belongs.”

Karnoski said in a statement as well that the Trump ban “backfired” in the end.

“When we used the courts to stand up for ourselves, tell our stories, and speak out against the harm this ban has caused, a very clear picture emerged of the incredible service and dedication of a significant number of transgender Americans,” Karnoski said. “Ultimately, this ban backfired in its attempt to portray transgender Americans as categorically unfit to serve in the military, and its true legacy has been defined by the subsequent outpouring of patriotism, courage, and unequivocal fitness demonstrated by those of us whom President Trump sought to prohibit from service. These are the same qualities that drew many of us toward military service in the first place.”

Read the executive order here.

[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.