New York, NY - Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, celebrates news that the Pentagon will issue new rules allowing transgender military personnel to again enlist and serve. The Pentagon's new guidelines come in response to a January executive order issued by President Biden in his first week in office. When the former president's ban on transgender military service went into effect in April 2019, it put an estimated 13,700 jobs at risk and many have awaited the opportunity to return to their careers.
Statement from GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis:
"President Biden and the Pentagon have moved swiftly and certainly to undo the discriminatory and unjust transgender military ban put in place by the former President. This is a great day for America's service members, who deserve a commander-in-chief who understands the service and sacrifice that come with putting on the uniform of the United States military. This will make our military more ready, more cohesive, and more equal."
Statement on Twitter: twitter.com/sarahkateellis/status/1377303053112590338 .
According to the Associated Press, which spoke to defense officials on background, the new rules coming today will allow enlistment and service to resume, and will also add new protections against gender identity-based discrimination, increased access to medically necessary trans healthcare, and a widespread review of the records of trans servicemembers who were discharged or denied reenlistment under the ban. According to the officials, the new policy will be similar to the original one it issued in 2016 before the ban.
Background on the transgender military service ban
Trans people were first allowed to serve openly in the military since 2016, after a lengthy period of research commissioned by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and were first allowed to enlist openly in 2017. Former President Donald Trump, however, announced via tweet in July 2017 that he would ban all trans people from military service, and the ban went into effect in April 2019.
No evidence was ever produced demonstrating a need for the ban. 41 retired generals and admirals said the former president's ban compromised military integrity. Service Chiefs of all five military branches testified that transgender-inclusive service was successful. A 2019 Quinnipiac University National Poll found an overwhelming 70% of Americans support allowing transgender Americans to serve in our nation's armed forces. After former President Trump tweeted his intention to ban transgender people in 2017, fifty-six retired generals and admirals warned that his ban would degrade military readiness.
In a 2018 report, The Palm Center, an independent, non-partisan research institute that conducts scholarly analysis of U.S. military personnel policy with a focus on the LGBTQ population, estimated over 14,700 transgender service members were currently serving. An estimated 13,700 lost their jobs immediately when the ban went into effect.
Since the 2017 Trump tweet, GLAAD has worked to tell the stories of dedicated transgender service members across media and at events including the GLAAD Media Awards and 2017 MTV VMAs. GLAAD also supported the production and publicity of TransMilitary, a documentary which tells the stories of trans service members serving our country. The film received the Audience Award at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and GLAAD also presented a copy of the documentary to every member of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Military Personnel before the ban was enacted in 2019. TransMilitary is available on iTunes and Amazon.
The previous President's tweeted ban on transgender military service was among at least 181 attacks, in policy and rhetoric, deployed against LGBTQ Americans by the Trump previous administration, tallied by GLAAD's Trump Accountability Project.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.