US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order allowing transgender people to serve in the military.
Donald Trump banned transgender people from joining the armed forces in 2017.
But just like the former Apprentice star’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and stop funding the World Health Organisation, his successor has moved quickly to reverse the decision.
The latest executive order issued by the 46th president came as he announced a ban on most non-US citizens entering the country if they have recently been in South Africa concerns over a new variant of the coronavirus.
It will come into force on Saturday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that Mr Biden will also reimpose a ban on almost all non-US citizens entering if they have been to Brazil, the UK, Ireland and the EU, reversing another order from Mr Trump that called for those restrictions to end from Tuesday.
Ms Psaki said: “With the pandemic worsening and more contagious variants spreading, this isn’t the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.”
The decisions on transgender people in the military and COVID travel restrictions mark the continuation of a busy first few days in office for Mr Biden.
President Barack Obama had first allowed transgender people to join the American military in 2016 – and receive medical care to transition.
When Mr Trump decreed during his first year in the White House that trans people would be excluded, he said the army needed to focus on “decisive and overwhelming victory”, without being burdened by the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of having trans personnel.
Nic Talbott, a transgender man, was forced to drop out of his military training due to Mr Trump’s order.
“This is such a huge relief, such a huge weight off my shoulders,” he said of Mr Biden’s decision.
“I know there are thousands of other people out there just like me who have been counting down to this day, waiting to be able to start our careers and start our lives.”
Members of Congress are working to put a policy of non-discrimination within the armed forces into law, to prevent any future president repeating Mr Trump’s action.
The new US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, has said he will immediately take action to ensure transgender people are eligible to enter the military.
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