Biden set to overturn Trump transgender military ban

(BBC) – President Biden is expected to repeal Donald Trump’s ban on transgender Americans joining the military, US media report.

The ban was announced by Mr Trump via a tweet during his first year in office.

The announcement could come on Monday at a ceremony with new Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

There were 8,980 active duty transgender troops in 2019, according to Department of Defence data analysed by the Palm Center, a non-profit group.

Mr Austin, a retired army general, spoke of the need to rescind the ban during his Senate confirmation hearing last week.

“If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve,” he said.

Mr Trump announced on Twitter in 2017 that the country would no longer “accept or allow” transgender Americans to serve in the military, citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption”.

The ban took effect in April 2019. Trans personnel who were already serving were allowed to continue, but new recruits were locked out.

Jim Mattis, the then defence secretary, refined the policy to limit it to individuals with a history of gender dysphoria, or when a person’s biological sex and identity do not match.

President Biden has repeatedly said he plans to overturn the ban.

Prior to the inauguration, a memo from Ron Klain, now the White House Chief of Staff, said Mr Biden planned to use his first full week as president “to advance equity and support communities of colour and other underserved communities”.

This is expected to be the latest example of Mr Biden using executive orders to overturn Trump era policies.

He has already signed orders halting construction of the Mexico border wall, overturning a ban on travellers from several predominantly Muslim countries, and launching an initiative to improve racial equity.

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