A statement from the White House (not an all-caps message on Twitter, what a relief!) says that this executive order “sets the policy that all Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve” and “immediately prohibits involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity,” per NBC News.
Communication from the White House said that “President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” echoing similar comments made by Biden’s Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during his Senate confirmation hearing. “If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve, and you can expect that I will support that throughout,” he said.
Trump’s ban faced roadblocks in court and was not necessarily enforced at every level–it’s one thing to tweet, another to govern, which Trump didn’t seem to understand. But whether Biden’s executive order is symbolic or practical, it’s being celebrated by many as a sign that this administration will support trans people’s right to live and work while openly self-identifying in the way that fits them best.
“I am really happy for the trans community. They deserve the right to serve in our Military,” one person tweeted. However, another pointed out, “Repealing the trans military ban is very important for currently serving trans soldiers, but being able to join the military is nowhere near the end-all be-all of what trans people are actually asking for in this country.”
President Joe Biden and his team made trans history earlier in the week when he nominated Dr. Rachel Levine to the position of assistant health secretary. If confirmed, she will be the first openly trans federal official to win Senate confirmation, per NPR.