President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Monday reversing a ban that prohibited transgender people from serving in the military. Former President Trump implemented the ban in 2019.
According to the Palm Center, a research institute focusing on LGBTQ personnel matters in the military, just under 15,000 transgender people were in the military in 2018.
“There are thousands of transgender members of the military who serve proudly and honorably and this has been a great distraction to them and to many of those who wanted to serve but haven’t been able,” said Amy Stephens, a transgender woman and a graduate student at SUNY Brockport.
In a statement on Monday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said that the change will ensure that no one is discharged or denied reenlistment solely on the basis of gender identity.
“The military accomplishes its mission more effectively when we can represent more of our fellow citizens,” said Lieutenant Colonel Cassandra Crosby, a military science professor at SUNY Brockport. “We really find the best out of our population and our people regardless of gender and identity when we can be more inclusive.”
The ban was one of several measures installed by the former Trump administration that removed protections for transgender people in education, healthcare, and in the workforce.
Stephens said she’d like to see the Equal Rights Amendment ratified during Biden’s term, which would guarantee equal rights for all U.S. citizens, regardless of their sex.
“What we still need is the Equality Act to be passed,” said Stephens. “Without that major legislation, we’re still subject to the whim of the president.”