President Joe Biden has signed an executive order overturning former president Trump’s ban on transgender troops, creating one of the first jobs for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Biden directed Austin to implement a policy that prohibits discrimination against troops based on their gender identity, saying the move would make the nation safer.
“Today, I repealed the discriminatory ban on transgender people serving in the military,” Biden tweeted. “It’s simple: America is safer when everyone qualified to serve can do so openly and with pride.”
The directive is one of Biden’s first moves to unravel Trump’s legacy in the military and elsewhere, says USA Today.
In a statement on Monday, Austin called Biden’s repeal of the ban, “The right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do.”
The Pentagon will move immediately to ensure transgender troops are not discharged or denied reenlistment based on gender identity, he said. They will also receive medically required treatment for transition.
Gender dysphoria results from the conflict between physical gender and gender identity and should not disqualify troops from serving, according to the American Medical Association and other major medical and psychiatric organisations.
The Pentagon spends about US$50 billion annually on health care, of which about US$3 million goes on treatment for transgender troops.