WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - An executive order Monday ended a transgender ban in the military that was enacted by the Trump administration. President Biden's order allows transgender individuals to once again join and serve.
The order immediately prohibits any service member from being forced out of the military on the basis of gender identity. The military is also being asked to reevaluate firings based on the policy since 2017.
"I don't think excited is the word, I'm overjoyed right now, it's overwhelming," said 22-year-old Kaycen Bradley.
Bradley has been anxiously waiting for this day eager to enlist in the U.S. Army. He's even met with recruiters and now as a person who's transgender, he finally gets that chance.
"Being able to live out that dream and to actually protect not only my country but my friends and family.. that's what it's about, my kids in the future," said Bradley.
FOX 5's Shirin Rajaee also sat down with U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Melody Stachour from the DMV.
"For me, it's a feeling of excitement and joy and relief as I'm ready to turn loose a whole generation of service members who can be themselves and carry on the legacy," said Stachour.
Chief Petty Officer Stachour transitioned from male to female in 2016, right before the Trump ban went into effect.
"My job is to lead and train... so my excitement is for the next generation the soldiers, sailors and airmen of today, and those wanting to join," she said.
"President Biden understands we are stronger as a country when we focus on skills and qualifications, as opposed to identity. And this ban being lifted means we can take advantage of all the great talent, to really serve our country well," said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign based in D.C.
Critics argue that federal money should not be spent on transgender medical costs and that transgender troops could harm morale or combat readiness but a recent study commissioned by the Defense Department said that impact would be minimal.
"When transgender people were allowed to serve in the military, the Pentagon acknowledged it's in the military's best interest to recruit and retain the best troops, regardless of gender identity. So we have known for a really long time that allowing transgender people to serve has no significant impact on operational effectiveness or unit cohesion. This ban for the last four years was driven by fear, not facts," said David.