President Biden lifted his predecessor’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military, announced government officials on Monday, emphasizing a social issue that has puzzled the Pentagon for the past five years.
The White House announced the move when Mr. Biden met in the Oval Office with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The move was anticipated when Mr Biden announced in November that he would work to restore Obama-era protection for transgender people, which was reversed by former President Donald J. Trump.
The speed, however, signaled the willingness of the new Biden administration to put their own stamp on the social issues of the Defense Department. This is followed by an announcement from Mr. Austin on Saturday that he is ordering a review of the Pentagon’s management of sexual assault problems.
Mr Biden and the Department of Defense leadership are also grappling with a race reckoning facing the Pentagon, where officials faced a blatant fact: nearly a fifth of the protesters arrested for violating the Capitol on Jan. January – many of them with ties to white supremacist organizations – have ties to the American military.
On the transgender issue, advocacy groups who have opposed the ban since it was announced three years ago have argued – in a tweet from Mr Trump – that the Pentagon doesn’t have to spend months studying how transgender people can serve because it had Already done. One such group, the Palm Center, said in a policy memo last summer that the military could quickly reopen to transgender people if asked to do so.
“A large ship can take some time to turn around, so the Pentagon needs to investigate policy changes frequently and act cautiously,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, in an interview last July. “However, this is the rare case where the military is just waiting to be turned around, as the military has maintained inclusive policies for serving transgender personnel despite implementing its ban.”
The Trump ban essentially ended an initiative by the Obama administration that allowed transgender troops to serve openly in the military.