Biden to reverse Trump’s transgender military ban

President Joe Biden is expected, as early as Monday, to sign an executive order that would repeal the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military that former President Donald Trump had put in effect, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News on Monday.

Biden’s action to reverse Trump’s ban had been widely expected. Biden had previously vowed to reverse the Trump administration’s transgender military policy “on Day One” of his administration, and his White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week that the move was imminent.

Psaki said Wednesday that the action would be among the “additional executive actions” that will be taken “in the coming days and weeks.”

During his Senate confirmation hearing last week, Biden’s Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he supports reversing the ban on trans people from serving openly.

“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 during his confirmation hearing.

Trump, in a series of unexpected tweets in July 2017, announced transgender people would be barred from serving in the military “in any capacity,” reversing a policy decision announced by the Obama administration in June 2016.

While the Trump administration maintained its policy was not a “ban,” it did prevent transgender people who plan to pursue gender-affirming hormones or surgery from enlisting. Transgender individuals who were already serving openly were grandfathered in, meaning they could continue to serve. But those service members who came out as trans after the policy could not pursue transition and were required to serve as their assigned sex at birth.

Thousands of transgender people already serve in the military. A 2016 Department of Defense survey estimated that 1 percent, or 8,980, active duty troops were transgender. Using the same data, the Palm Center, which studies LGBTQ people in the military, estimated that an additional 5,727 transgender people were in the Selected Reserve, bringing the total estimated number of transgender troops serving in 2016 to 14,707.

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