Biden to reverse transgender military ban as soon as Monday
President Biden could reverse former President Trump’s transgender military ban as soon as Monday, a source familiar with the plan confirmed to The Hill.
Biden is expected to sign an executive order reversing Trump’s policy as soon as right after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is ceremonially sworn in at the White House on Monday, the source said.
Asked for comment, the Pentagon referred The Hill to the White House, which did not immediately respond to an emailed request. The timing was first reported by CBS News.
Biden pledged during the presidential campaign that he would lift the ban, referring to doing so as a “day one” priority. But it was not among the batch of executive orders Biden signed hours after his inauguration amid a delay in Austin’s confirmation.
Austin was confirmed Friday morning and officially sworn in later that day.
During his confirmation hearing last week, Austin said he supported lifting the ban.
“I support the president’s plan to overturn the ban,” Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I truly believe, senator, as I said in my opening statement, that if you are fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve.”
The Obama administration, in which Biden was vice president, lifted the previous ban on transgender military service in 2016.
But in 2017, Trump tweeted that he would reverse the open service policy, saying he would “not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
In 2019, the Pentagon implemented a policy meant to fulfill Trump’s order that bars most transgender people from serving in the military unless they do so in their biological sex.
The Trump administration denied the policy was a ban because of some limited exceptions. For example, Trump’s policy allowed transgender troops and recruits to seek a waiver to serve openly. It also allowed those who came out under the Obama administration’s policy to continue serving openly.
The military is only known to have granted one waiver since Trump’s policy took effect, and opponents of the policy say the data show it effectively is a ban akin to the defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that banned open service by gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.
Four lawsuits were filed against the ban. Lawyers in the cases have said they expect the suits to be resolved if and when Biden reverses Trump’s policy.
Biden was under pressure to quickly lift the ban, with advocates saying there was no reason he should not be able to do it immediately.
A memo released in July by the Palm Center, which researches issues of gender and sexuality in the military, said open service could be restored within 30 days of an executive order lifting the ban because the Pentagon had to keep the Obama administration’s policy framework intact in order to allow those who already came out to continue serving openly.