Local organizations call reversal of transgender military ban “a good first step”

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – An executive order is bringing optimism to some. This week, President Biden reversed a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.

When the Trump Administration announced restrictions in 2016 that would limit most transgender people from enlisting or serving in the military, some say it brought a range of emotions.

“I was angry and I was upset, I was upset for the people in my community who have served in the military, the disrespect they were being shown,” said Alexander Martin, Outreach Coordinator at Central Illinois Friends.

An attorney with ACLU of Illinois says the ban was addressed in court cases across the country and she says evidence showed there was no justification for it.

“This policy did nothing to improve the safety of our country or to improve effectiveness or morale for our troops. All it did was prevent people from doing their jobs,” said Carolyn Wald, Staff Attorney with ACLU of Illinois.

Now this week, President Biden signed an executive order reversing the ban on transgender service members which could impact around 14,000 people, according to Wald.

Martin says while they are happy about the announcement, it doesn’t heal all the pain that some have felt the past few years.

“It’s only just the beginning, it’s the bare minimum because it shouldn’t have been taken away in the first place,” they said.

Dave Bentlin, President of the Board for Prairie Pride Coalition, says the LGBTQI+ community experiences more disenfranchisement than most, but he says lifting the military transgender ban is moving in the right direction in ensuring these communities are treated more fairly.

“It’s sort of like turning around a big ship. It doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t happen quickly but I believe this is a good first step,” Bentlin said.

Bentlin says he does not believe the ban will discourage transgender individuals from rejoining the military.

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