On his first day in office, President Biden signed an executive order pledging to combat discrimination based on gender identity.
U.S. President Joe Biden was vocal in his support of LGBT rights long before he took office. During his presidential campaign, Biden had promised to nullify several laws put in place under Trump's presidency.
These include reversing a ban on transgender people from joining the military, barring federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ job discrimination, as well as restoring rights for transgender students brought in under the Obama administration. The Trump administration had argued that these laws were put in place under the "religious freedom" laws . Biden promised that he would reinstate LGBTQ rights within 100 days of taking office.
Indeed, on his first day of office, Biden called on federal agencies to enforce a supreme court decision from 2020 that expanded a definition of sex discrimination to include issues of sex and gender identity, as reported in The Guardian. This included schools and student athletics.
Biden said: “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” the directive states, adding that the incoming administration is committed to “prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation”.
The move was marked as victory by campaigners who had been fighting against a flurry of bills introduced to limit transgender students' participation in school sports.
On Jan 25, 2021, President Biden reversed an executive order issued by former President Donald Trump and signed a new executive order allowing transgender people into active military service. As published by the White House, the new executive order stated that gender identity should not be a bar to military service. The order further pointed out that there was substantial evidence to show that allowing transgender people into the military did not have a negative impact on the armed forces. While signing the new executive order, President Biden said that he was doing it to enable all qualified Americans to serve in the armed forces.
Previously, as the U.S. president, Donald Trump, had tweeted citing the extra medical costs incurred by transgender servicemen, referred to the medical costs as a burden to the military, and expressed his intent to ban transgender individuals from serving in the armed forces in any capacity.
The Washington Post reported that many states were preparing bills and legislations against the newly awarded rights. It also pointed out the discriminatory laws in various states that treated transgender people differently. The WP report further noted that many such legislations have not yet been implemented or that many have failed.
While several states are resisting the changes, Biden's commitment marks a clear departure from Trump's stance on the treatment of transgender people.