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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. on Feb. 10. Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Pentagon plans to provide gender-affirming healthcare to transgender Americans serving in the military, as part of its rollback of the Trump administration's ban on trans service members, press secretary John Kirby announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is returning to an Obama-era rule to cover medical costs for service members' gender transition as it engages in a broader effort to more vocally support the trans community.

  • Biden's presidency marks a high point of national political attention on trans rights and an about-face from the federal government under Trump.

Details: The policies announced Wednesday, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and provide a path for those in service to obtain medical treatment for their gender transition, go into effect in 30 days, Kirby said.

Flashback: Biden signed an executive order overturning Trump's trans military ban shortly after taking office.

  • The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly trans 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 (TAVA).
  • The Pentagon's latest estimate of the total number of active-duty service members who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria is 2,200, Stephanie Miller, the director of military accession policy, said Wednesday. Not all transgender people are diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Context: A 2016 RAND Corporation's study found that military health system costs would increase anywhere between $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year if it were to provide transition-related care to transgender personnel.

  • The study stressed this would represent "an exceedingly small proportion of active component health care expenditures" handled by the military, or well under 1%.

What they're saying: "Transgender Americans are patriots capable of doing anything anybody else does," Denny Meyer, national public affairs officer for TAVA, told Axios.

  • "In our membership, we have people who served as drill sergeants, fighter pilots, intelligence officers, anything you can imagine. So they deserve the complete medical care that they need, simple as that."

Go deeper

Biden issues first-ever presidential proclamation for Trans Day of Visibility

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on March 29. Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Biden issued a statement to formally celebrate Wednesday as Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), an international day first marked in 2009 as a way to commemorate trans lives and accomplishments.

Why it matters: Biden is the first sitting U.S. president to issue a proclamation in observance of the day. It comes as a record number of state legislatures — predominately led by Republicans — introduce bills to regulate how trans youth play sports and receive gender-affirming healthcare.

Mar 31, 2021 - Sports

3 GOP governors signed laws targeting trans youth in sports in the last 3 weeks

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Over 50 bills in 28 states have been introduced this year that would exclude transgender youth from playing sports on teams that align with their gender identity.

Driving the news: In the past three weeks alone, Republican governors from three states — Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas — have signed such bills.

State Department orders non-essential diplomats to leave Myanmar

Protesters standing by burning material during a protest against the military coup in Yangon on March 30. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of State ordered non-essential diplomats and their families to depart Myanmar in a Tuesday statement, according to AP.

Why it matters: The military junta that overthrew the country's democratically elected government in February has killed hundreds of non-violent protesters during anti-coup demonstrations, and the State Department expects the civil unrest and violence to continue.