Transgender Leaders Give Props to President Biden for Reversing Trump-era Ban on Transgender People Serving in the Military
President Biden on Monday overturned the Trump administration’s ban on transgender personnel serving openly in the U.S. military, a move local transgender leaders revere.
“Let us be clear, this is about love of country, service and a willingness to put your life on the line for others,” Lisa Middleton, mayor pro tem of the Palm Springs City Council told Uken Report. “Those are traits that have defined the best of us for ages. Being transgender does not make one less patriotic. Being transgender does not make me less an American. President Biden has once again reaffirmed the fundamental American values of equality, opportunity and responsibility.”
In November 2017, Lisa Middleton was the first out transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California She immediately attracted international attention. She has become a respected leader in the community, state and beyond.
President Biden’s executive order, which will provide immediate protection to transgender troops at risk of being forced out of the military, addresses critics’ concerns that Trump-era restrictions would shrink the military’s recruiting pool and sideline qualified service members. Lifting the ban, Biden said, will make for a more effective force.
“America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive,” the White House said in a statement. “The military is no exception.”
Thomi Clinton, another of the local transgender leaders, told Uken Report, “IT is a great day in our nation when we return to the content of one’s character and work ethic to determine employment versus one’s gender identity to protect our nation.”
Clinton is the Director of Transgender Community Coalition. Her priority is to provide trans people the tools they need to fulfill their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Behind the scenes, her work has affected millions of lives within this nation.
The decision represents one element in a burst of actions unveiled in the Biden administration’s initial days that seek to support transgender equality — which the president has called “the civil rights issue of our time” — and gay and lesbian rights.
The order underscores the new administration’s intent to move away from a course set under President Donald Trump in which a series of decisions erased protections for transgender people in health care, federal employment, homeless shelters and other areas. The Trump administration also rescinded Obama-era guidance that protected transgender students, and declared that federal law required a Connecticut school to ban transgender students from participating in school sports.
Monday’s decision effectively repeals a 2019 Defense Department order that imposed tight limits on service by transgender troops, allowing them only if they hadn’t been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, hadn’t transitioned gender and didn’t need to, and could meet standards for their biological gender including for grooming and uniforms. Those rules, which Pentagon officials rolled out to match Trump’s abrupt 2017 Twitter proclamation that transgender troops would be banned, reversed more permissive policies issued by the Obama administration.
Activists said the Trump-era rules amounted to a ban on transgender personnel in the military, who are believed to number close to 15,000. The Pentagon has not made public any statistic on how many transgender troops may have left the military since the 2019 order took effect.
According to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the new regulations will permit recruits who meet entry standards to serve in their self-identified gender, and will ensure that the military pays for medically necessary care related to gender transition. The new order will also halt steps to force transgender personnel out of the military.
“We should avail ourselves of the best possible talent in our population, regardless of gender identity,” Austin said in a statement. “This is the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do.”
Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and one of the attorneys who led the challenge to the military transgender ban in court, told the Washington Post that the new order “marks the end of the most serious threat to the legal equality of transgender people in our nation’s history.”
“It was literally the federal government telling the world that transgender people are mentally unstable, unfit,” Minter said, adding that military service has long been considered a cornerstone for equal citizenship in the United States. “We will look back on this as the beginning of a real turning point in the struggle of transgender legal equality.”
Biden, who in 2012 announced his support for legalizing same-sex marriage ahead of President Barack Obama, has made LGBTQ rights a signature issue.
Nicolas Talbott was enrolled in an Army ROTC program as a Kent State University graduate student when the Trump administration’s ban went into effect. Talbott, a transgender man from Lisbon, Ohio, who had hoped to enlist in the Air Force, said he was left “standing on the sidelines” as friends signed up.
“The tone of this policy was that transgender people are lesser, that they are not as deserving as other people, that we are somehow a burden,” said Talbott, who was a plaintiff in one of the legal challenges to Trump’s ban.
Biden’s executive order means Talbott can once again enroll in an ROTC program and pursue his goal of becoming an intelligence officer in the Army or Air Force. “Being able to put on that uniform and stand there next to everyone else is a testament that . . . trans people are just as capable, as qualified, as willing as anybody else,” Talbott said, according to the Washington Post.
- 450x550_lisa-middleton: Lisa Middleton
- Thomi Clinton: Uken Report
- Soldiers: Pixaby