Transgender service members praise Biden’s swift action

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Published: Feb. 20, 2021 at 8:44 PM AKST
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The transgender community is praising President Biden’s recent executive order allowing transgender individuals to join and openly serve in the military. Experts estimate there are thousands of service members who identify as transgender, and many others who want to serve, including 23-year-old Kaycen Bradley.

“Do my civic duty, as some would say, it would mean more than anything to me,” Bradley said. “I’ve always wanted to do Special Forces.”

Bradley identifies as transgender—born female, he transitioned to male in 2017. It has been his life-long goal to join the military, and he is praising President Biden for his swift action.

“I can’t wait to go to boot camp,” he said.

Transgender advocates believe Biden’s policy will look similar to President Obama’s proposed policy. If so, new recruits like Bradley would need to meet certain requirements like being diagnosed with gender dysphoria, or distress in gender assigned at birth, and being stable in their preferred gender for 18 months.

Bree Fram, with SPARTA, a Transgender Military Advocacy Organization, and an active duty transgender service member herself, said transgender service members are rejoicing because the new policy would allow them to officially transition while serving.

“This was the lifting of a burden,” she said. “For anyone that has to serve and hide part of themselves…you’re dedicating a portion of your mental energy to protecting your identity.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Thomas Spoehr is critical of Biden’s order, saying a diagnosis of gender dysphoria should be like other medical conditions barring people from serving. The most recent 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey said the rate of suicide thoughts and attempts are significantly higher among transgender adults. Spoehr argues that could impact their psychological readiness for the battlefield.

“I think it’s immoral to put people in harm’s way who might be more susceptible to mental injury,” he said. “You just don’t do that.”

While Spoehr says he would prefer the Trump-era restrictions return, he suggests officials should analyze the Biden Administration’s policy impact once it is in place.

The Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense are required to report their progress on implementing the order by end of March.

We reached out to the Biden Administration twice for a statement on the signed Executive Order and never received an answer or statement.

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