President Joe Biden signed another executive order Monday that reversed former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military, according to The Associated Press.

  • “President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” the White House says in a fact sheet.
  • The executive order allows the Pentagon to change regulations about how transgender troops can serve in the U.S. military.

As a candidate, Biden promised to reverse Trump’s ban, which had been a reversal of President Barack Obama’s policy, according to The New York Times. Biden served as vice president during the Obama administration.

Biden signed the order before his Oval Office meeting with new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Vice President Kamala Harris, according to NPR.

  • “If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve, and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve,” Austin said.
  • “Our Armed Forces are at their best when they represent the talents of our entire population, regardless of gender identity,” the defense secretary said on Twitter.

Trump-era Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — a former United States Marine Corp general who was leading the Defense Department when the ban was first announced — said in a February 2018 memo that there were “substantial risks” in allowing people with “a history of gender dysphoria” to serve in the military and that their service could “undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion and impose an unreasonable burden on the military.”

  • Several studies over the last few years have shown broad support within the military for letting transgender people serve the nation in uniform, according to the Military Times.

That broad support was “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,” the White House said in a statement, reported the Military Times.

  • “The transgender community has been told once again that we can serve the nation we love, we can be heroes, and that we belong everywhere that life is lived,” retired Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King — who transitioned from male to female in November 2015 after three deployments to Afghanistan — said in a statement after the announcement, according to Task & Purpose. “We have been shown once again that unique perspectives, combined with shared ideals makes us stronger.”