White House Lifts Restrictions on Transgender Troops

Global HR

​President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 25 lifting the previous administration’s restrictions on transgender individuals serving in the military.

“President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” the White House said in a statement. We’ve gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other trusted sources.

2016 Study Cited

In his executive order, Biden cited a study that was requested by the Department of Defense in 2016, which “found that enabling transgender individuals to serve openly in the United States military would have only a minimal impact on military readiness and healthcare costs.” The study also concluded that “open transgender service has had no significant impact on operational effectiveness or unit cohesion in foreign militaries.” The new executive order will allow transgender service members who meet the required standards and procedures to serve openly and enable service members to take steps to transition gender while serving.

(White House)

Defense Secretary Supports Order

The new defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, attended the signing and said he supports the order. “I fully support the president’s direction that all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination,” he said in a statement.

(ABC News)

Former Policy Revoked

With some exceptions, the prior policy blocked individuals diagnosed with a condition known as gender dysphoria from serving in the military. The order allowed other individuals to serve only if they did so according to the sex they were assigned at birth. President Donald Trump announced the ban on Twitter in 2017, citing concerns related to “tremendous medical costs and disruption.” The official policy was released in 2018, and the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it to take effect in January 2019.


Employment Protections

Employers should note that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender individuals’ right to be free from discrimination in the workplace. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating based on color, national origin, race, religion and sex. In a 2020 opinion (Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the law’s protection from sex discrimination includes workplace protections from bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

(SHRM Online)

Going Beyond Compliance to End Workplace Harassment

Complying with anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws is a critical part of the job for managers and HR professionals. To create a positive workplace that is inclusive of all employees requires going beyond what is legally mandated. Leaders can help improve their organization’s culture by stopping bullying and other unwelcome behavior before it turns into unlawful harassment.

(SHRM Online)

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