On January 25, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order which reversed the previous ban on transgender individuals serving in the United States military. This new order was signed in the presence of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Vice President Harris.
The Executive Order states that “All Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States (“Armed Forces”) should be able to serve” and that gender identity should not prevent someone from serving in the military. Allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military does not negatively impact the DOD’s mission referencing the 2016 Rand Corporation study completed on transgender individuals serving in the Armed Forces to determine the costs and political readiness implications of transgender. The study was completed and provided several recommendations to include that the DOD include openly serving transgender service members to diversify their workforce based on the research that integrations of transgender individuals did not affect foreign military policy.
The order references further support for transgender service members being allowed to serve was demonstrated in 2018 when then Chief of Staff of the army, Chief of Naval Operations, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Chief of Staff of the Air Force testified to Congress to that there was no morale or unit cohesion problem from those military members who were openly transgender. The executive order further states that “permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military was consistent with military readiness and with strength through diversity, such that the transgender service members who could meet the required standards and procedures should be permitted to serve openly.”
It further dictates that the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Homeland Security in respect to the Coast Guard shall prohibit involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment based on gender identity, retroactively review records of individuals who were involuntarily separated discharged or denied reenlistment or continuation of service based on gender identity, and to issue guidance to the Secretaries of each military section to correct military records.
Language within the Executive order repeals the previous Presidential Memorandum on this topic. Specifically, it states “The Presidential Memorandum of March 23, 2018 (Military Service by Transgender Individuals), is hereby revoked, and the Presidential Memorandum of August 25, 2018 (Military Service by Transgender Individuals), remains revoked.”