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Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.

  • A 2016 RAND Corporation study estimated that the number of active-duty transgender troops could range from 2,000 to 11,000, but stressed that the true number could vary based on self-reporting.
  • "Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform is better for the military and better for the country because an inclusive force is a more effective force," the White House said in a statement. "Simply put, it’s the right thing to do and is in our national interest."

Where it stands: Biden ordered military records to be corrected if service members were discharged or denied reenlistment or continued service due to their gender identity.

Background: After a decades-long ban, trans people were first able to serve openly again in the armed forces in June 2016, under President Obama.

  • Multiple legal battles ensued after President Trump first tweeted in July 2017 that transgender people would not be allowed "to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," citing medical costs and "disruption."
  • The Supreme Court let the ban proceed in a 5-4 vote in January 2019, after two federal judges had temporarily blocked it following a lawsuit from the ACLU.

What they're saying: LGBTQ and legal advocates praised the policy reversal, which comes after Democrats in the 2020 race held one of the most prominent political discussions of trans rights to date.

"Repealing the military ban sends a powerful message that transgender people belong in our country," ACLU senior legislative representative Ian Thompson said in an emailed statement.

  • The ACLU hopes that Biden's reversal of the ban "is the first of many essential steps to not only roll back the many discriminatory policies from the Trump administration but go further than any previous administration in fully recognizing transgender and non-binary people," Thompson said.
  • Gillian Branstetter, a spokesperson for the National Women’s Law Center, said she is optimistic that the Biden administration will keep LGBTQ rights a priority while juggling the pandemic and other crises — partially due to key nominations like Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general and Xavier Becerra as Health and Human Services secretary.

Go deeper

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

Everyone wants to be an influencer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The number of people looking to become online influencers has exploded during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Almost anyone can find themselves in a position to become an influencer, and brands are throwing billions of dollars at online content creators.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

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