El Paso reacts to Biden’s reversal on transgender military ban

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Photograph courtesy of Ted Eytan

Protestors hold signs outside the White House, against former President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban. This material is licensed to the public under the Creative Comm.

Victoria Rivas , Contributor

On Monday, Jan. 25, President Joe Biden signed an executive order overturning  a ban set by former President Donald Trump that restricted transgender personnel from joining the military. 

“It’s simple: America is safer when everyone qualified to serve can do so openly and with pride,” Biden wrote  on Twitter. 

This executive order protects transgender soldiers from being removed  from the military. This order will allow recruits to serve as their self-identified gender and ensure the military will pay for their gender transition medical procedures. 

“President Joe Biden’s collective decision to overturn the LGBTQ+ military alliance ban is long overdue,” said Vic Doster, a therapist at the Borderland Rainbow Center in El Paso.  A person’s ability to serve their country, should not be in question because of their gender identity. The military is a diverse workforce.”  

Trump’s ban was a reversal of President Barack Obama’s announced policy to allow transgender Americans to serve openly in the military starting July 2017. In 2017, Trump announced his administration would not allow the group to serve openly in the military, claiming it was a cause of “tremendous medical costs.”  

Transgender people who were already serving in the military could continue to do so, but the new soldiers who identified as transgender would have to serve as their assigned sex at birth. In 2019, the Defense Department finalized the policy.  

People like Xochitl Colmenero Martinez, 21, tabling and event coordinator of the Queer Student Alliance (QSA) at UTEP, hopes Biden’s administration will bring equality for transgender individuals. 

“President Biden overturned a ban that should have never existed in the first place,” Martinez said. “The ban imposed by Trump during his time in office was discriminatory and reserved advancement made for the LGBTQ, especially transgender individuals who wished to join the U.S. military.” 

In a statement, the White House said America is stronger at home and around the world, when it is inclusive, with the military being no exception.  

“This executive order will benefit local transgender individuals greatly,” Martinez said. El Paso houses such a large military base in the U.S. and is a great place for those looking for a career in the military to get started. 

On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order that expands anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans. The act directs federal agencies with protections against discrimination based on sex to interpret those statutes to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. 

“Many transgender identifying people have been waiting for this moment, as the time that passed, where the previous administration’s transgender ban was in place, has been far too long,” Doster said. This is another step towards equity.”  

Doster and Martinez feel like Biden is making good decisions towards securing transgender rights and equality and hope he will continue to do so. 

“I do hope that transgender individuals can secure more laws for equality and safety under the new administration,” Martinez said.  

Victoria Rivas may be reached at [email protected]@VicRivas_18 on Twitter.