January 19, 2021 at 5:47 pm PST | by Chris Johnson
Defense Secretary Nominee: ‘I support the plan to overturn the transgender military ban’
Screenshot via C-SPAN2

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of Defense told Senators during his confirmation hearing that he supports the effort to end the transgender military ban.

Gen. Lloyd Austin, USA Ret., Biden’s to lead the Pentagon said Tuesday for the first time publicly he supports efforts to overturn the transgender military ban under questioning from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who has taken the lead on the issue in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I support the plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said. “I truly believe that if you’re a fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve.”

Aaron Belkin, director of the San Francisco-based Palm Center, said in a statement Austin’s comments in favor of ending the transgender military ban are welcome news.

“It’s heartening that defense secretary-designate Lloyd Austin fully understands the urgency of ending the military’s harmful transgender ban,” Belkin said. “Very little needs to be done administratively to finally end discrimination against transgender troops, and we look forward to the arrival of fully inclusive policy very soon.”

Sources told the Blade that during a Tuesday afternoon conference call with LGBTQ leaders, the Biden team stated that the president-elect would direct the Defense Department to dismantle the transgender military ban in an executive order issued on his first day in office.

It may take an entire year before the Pentagon is completely able to undo the ban, which President Trump initiated by tweet in July 2017. The Palm Center, however, asserts that the policy could be reversed in as few as 30 days.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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