The Pentagon is reversing many of the Army’s Trump-era transgender policies, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby announced Wednesday.
The new regulations allow transgender people to participate in the military and serve according to their preferred gender. In addition, the new rules will expand access to health care, including medication in the event of gender reassignment.
“Minister of Defense [Lloyd Austin] strongly believes that all volunteer forces thrive when they are composed of diverse Americans who can meet the high standards of military service and participatory forces that strengthen our national security, ”Kirby said.
Currently, only transgender forces that fall under Obama’s 2016 governance policy are allowed to serve openly.
The change in policy comes on the basis of a two-month review by the Department of Defense and coincides with International Transgender Visibility Day.
In January, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on all agencies to review current policies and regulations on sex discrimination.
Shortly before the implementation, Biden appointed transgender doctor Rachel Levinen as assistant health secretary. Levine became the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.
Biden’s approach to transgender forces differs from that of his predecessor.
In 2017, former President Donald Trump tweeted that he would no longer allow “transgender people to serve in any position in the U.S. military.”
Trump’s first Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, made a compromise that led to some service members but required new employees to serve their original gender.
Advocacy groups opposed a policy whose implementation was hampered by successful legal challenges from federal courts.
The situation changed in 2019 when the Supreme Court gave the Trump government the right to enforce a ban on transgender forces as court battles continued.
Trump also overturned Obama-era health care protection for transgender communities, allowing health care companies to discriminate on the basis of gender identity. It is unclear whether these policies will be addressed in the coming months.
– CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this report.