President Biden signed today an Executive Order that sets the policy that all Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve. The All-Volunteer Force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security.
President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity. This question of how to enable all qualified Americans to serve in the military is easily answered by recognizing our core values. America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive. The military is no exception. Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform is better for the military and better for the country because an inclusive force is a more effective force. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do and is in our national interest.
In 2016, a comprehensive study requested by the Department of Defense found that enabling transgender individuals to serve openly in the United States military would have only a minimal impact on military readiness and healthcare costs. The study also concluded that open transgender service has had no significant impact on operational effectiveness or unit cohesion in foreign militaries.
These facts were confirmed by testimony in 2018 to Congress by the then-serving Chief of Staff of the Army, Chief of Naval Operations, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Chief of Staff of the Air Force that they were not aware of any issues of unit cohesion, disciplinary problems, or issues of morale resulting from open transgender service. In addition, former United States Surgeons General, who served under both Democratic and Republican Presidents, supported this posture, noted in 2018 that “transgender troops are as medically fit as their non-transgender peers and that there is no medically valid reason — including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria — to exclude them from military service or to limit their access to medically necessary care.”
Today’s executive action revokes the Presidential Memorandum of March 23, 2018 (Military Service by Transgender Individuals), and also confirms the revocation of the Presidential Memorandum of August 25, 2017 (Military Service by Transgender Individuals). This executive order:
Directs the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Homeland Security to implement this order. The President has directed the Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard, after consultation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to take all necessary steps to ensure that all directives, orders, regulations, and policies of their respective departments are consistent with this order.
Immediately Prohibits Involuntary Separations, Discharges, and Denials of Reenlistment or Continuation of Service on the Basis of Gender Identity or Under Circumstances Relating to Gender Identity. And, the order directs an immediate start to the identification and examination of the records of service members who have been involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service onthe basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity, as well as the correction of the military records. Simply put, transgender servicemembers will no longer be subject to the possibility of discharge or separation on the basis of gender identity; transgender servicemembers can serve in their gender when transition is complete and the gender marker in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) is changed and transgender servicemembers should know that they are accepted throughout the US military.
Requires an initial report from the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security be made to the President within 60 days on their progress in implementing the directives and policy included in today’s Executive Order.