President Biden reverses ban on transgender service members, stakes LGBTQ issues as top priority
Orlando, FL - In 2012, then-Vice President Joe Biden called transgender rights the “civil rights issue of our time”. Now, President Biden is working furiously to address that, reversing the previous administration’s bigoted ban on transgender military service members.
“The Trump administration assaulted the transgender community at every turn,” said Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s Director of Transgender Equality. “The welcoming back to work of thousands of transgender people who’ve made the sacrifice of serving their country is a win for America and a refreshing reminder that the Biden-Harris administration intends to turn the page on the bigotry of the last four years. The transgender community is ready to enter a new era where we are judged based on the content of our character, not our gender identity.”
It is estimated that, when the ban on transgender servicemembers went into effect, up to 15,000 transgender people were active duty or serving in the National Guard or reserve forces. The effects on those and other transgender people in America were immediate - painting hardworking people as a burden or distraction and further stigmatizing the needs of the transgender community. Its repeal comes as vindication for transgender veterans.
“This roll back of the trans military ban is the culmination of lots of diligent work to rightly recognize the contributions transgender service members who serve in the active and reserve components along with our National Guard units across the globe,” said Taryn Wilson, US Navy Veteran from Panama City, Florida. “We are not a burden, we are a force multiplier. We serve in all ranks, branches, and military occupational specialties. We have always been here and will now be able to serve openly for the foreseeable future.”
The ban reversal came amidst a flurry of early pro-LGBTQ actions, including a historic expansion of nondiscrimination protections, the appointment of Dr. Rachel Levine to assistant secretary of health, and the addition of pronouns to the White House’s contact form. However, gains for the LGBTQ community remain tenuous in the absence of comprehensive nondiscrimination protections codified into US law. Passage of the Equality Act, which would update the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, must now be an urgent priority.
“We are celebrating a win today but our work is just beginning. The right of LGBTQ people to live with dignity should not rest on executive orders from the Oval Office, but should be fully codified into law. We are excited to roll up our sleeves and work alongside the Biden-Harris administration and leaders in Congress, including Florida’s own Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, to pass the Equality Act,” said Duncan.
The Equality Act was passed in the US House of Representatives in 2019. However, despite support from over 71% of Americans for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, the bill failed to receive consideration from Senate Republicans. In making wholesale changes to leadership at the ballot box, the American people have spoken loudly and clearly: now is the time to act on equality.