December 1, 2023

U.S. Airmen with the 8th fighter wing salute during a change of command ceremony at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, on May 25, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Colville McFee | US Air Forces

The Pentagon will reverse many of the Trump-era military transgender policies, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby announced on Wednesday.

The new regulations will allow transgender people to enroll in the military and serve in their preferred gender. In addition, the new rules will expand access to health care, including medical treatment for gender reassignment.

“Secretary of Defense [Lloyd Austin] strongly believes that the all-volunteer force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet high standards for military service and an inclusive force that strengthens our national security posture, “said Kirby.

Currently, only transgender troops covered by a 2016 Obama administration policy are allowed to serve openly.

The policy change follows a two-month review by the Department of Defense and coincides with International Transgender Visibility Day.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January calling on all agencies to conduct a review of existing policies and regulations on gender discrimination.

Shortly before the Executive Order, Biden appointed transgender doctor Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary of Health. Levine was the first openly transgender federal official to be ratified by the Senate.

Biden’s approach to transgender troops differs from that of his predecessor.

In 2017, former President Donald Trump tweeted that he would “no longer allow transgender people to serve in any capacity in the US military.”

Trump’s first secretary of defense, James Mattis, issued a compromise that was large with some service members but required that new recruits serve in their original birth gender.

Interest groups spoke out against the policy, the implementation of which was halted by successful legal challenges in federal courts.

That changed in 2019 when the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to enforce the ban on transgender troops while court battles continued.

Trump also reversed the health protection of the transgender community in the Obama era, which gave health companies the opportunity to discriminate based on gender identity. It is unclear whether these guidelines will be implemented in the coming months.

– CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this report.

CNBC policy

Read more about CNBC’s political coverage: