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Biden sides with Trump, signs order on trans military service that changes almost nothing

President Biden’s executive order on transgender military service appears to affirm his predecessor’s position.



President Joe Biden in the Oval Office // AP

Critics are raising eyebrows at an executive order signed Monday by President Joe Biden intended to reverse a so-called transgender military ban enacted by his predecessor, Donald J. Trump.

Just days into his presidency, the directive joins over 30 executive orders already signed by the new president, this one addressing one of the Biden campaign’s strongest promises to leftwing LGBT activists. Yet critics are blasting the two-page order as all pomp and virtue-signaling with little substance. The new order appears to merely replace Trump’s exact policy with similar guidelines using less strident language.

Trump’s 2017 executive order does not ban transgender Americans from serving openly in the military, only those currently undergoing medical intervention for gender dysphoria. This was in line with almost all existing military policy regarding personnel who require prolonged, regular medical care, including diabetics, for example. The policy is also in line with existing rules on enlistees currently undergoing mental health treatment, or who have experienced mental health problems in the past. Until May 2019, the World Health Organization listed Gender Identity Disorder as a mental illness.

The ban on medically-assisted transgender personnel in the military remained in effect for nearly all eight years of the Obama-Biden administration. In June 2016, Obama lifted the ban just ahead of the 2016 election. Trump reversed course on Obama’s very late and hasty decision, allowing military personnel to decide the best course for future policy.

Now, Joe Biden has revealed he mostly agrees with his predecessor. Critics say the highly-anticipated executive order is an empty screed reaffirming the military’s commitment to enlist all “qualified” and willing Americans, but stops short at changing almost anything in President Trump’s directive. Biden’s order does not eliminate the ban on service members undergoing medical treatment for gender dysphoria. It also, glaring, does not order the military to pay for gender reassignment surgery or other transition-related medical costs, a demand championed by leftwing activists.

Trump’s so-called trans military ban remained a rallying cry for LGBT activists and mainstream media during the Trump presidency and in the lead up to the 2020 general election. Mainstream media and activists continue to falsely claim the 45th president banned trans people from serving in the armed forces.

“The previous administration chose to alter that policy to bar transgender persons, in almost all circumstances, from joining the Armed Forces and from being able to take steps to transition gender while serving,” Biden’s new Executive order claims. “Therefore, it shall be the policy of the United States to ensure that all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination.”

The executive order does not rebuke restrictions on those medically transitioning but refers to statements from the Secretary of Defense from 2016, claiming, “The Secretary of Defense also concluded that it was appropriate to create a process that would enable service members to take steps to transition gender while serving.”

“To that end, in 2016, a meticulous, 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,” Biden’s order claims, while not addressing whether such costs would be covered.  

Read the full executive order

Transgender rights have taken centerstage in Biden’s infantile administration. The president caused a wave of outrage when he signed a controversial executive order last week. That directive, titled “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” threatens to remove federal funding from any educational institution that does not admit biological males into women’s sports and scholarships.

People became so outraged the hashtag #BidenErasedWomen trended on Twitter. Journalist Abigail Shrier decried the move, saying it “unilaterally eviscerates women’s sports.”

“Sad day for women’s sports. Women must compete against biological males at the risk of injury and loss of title, thanks to a new Biden executive order. Don’t ever tell me this is ‘pro-woman.’ It’s not. It’s destructive and malicious,” policy analyst Erielle Davidson wrote on Twitter.