MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new executive order signed Monday by President Joe Biden has reversed a Trump-era ban on transgender service in the military.

Sgt. Sebastian Nemic joined the Minnesota National Guard in 2011, and realized he was transgender in 2013.

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“It was a big relief, even though for me I was grandfathered in under the old policy,” Nemic said.

He deployed to Kuwait shortly after, and started the medical transition when he returned home.

“This is now a new opportunity for future service members, future transgender people that want to serve our country, now they have the honor to do so and the privilege to do so,” Nemic said.

He agrees with studies that show transgender people serve at a higher rate than the rest of the country. With less than 1% of the population serving in our volunteer army, Nemic believes anyone willing to raise their hand and take the oath and qualify should be allowed to serve.

Retired Major Tarrence Robertson left the National Guard two months ago.

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(credit: CBS)

“The folks that have been serving that are trans, you know, they have the opportunity now to be authentic, to live authentically and to lead authentically,” Robertson said.

Although he is happy to see the ban on transgender service lifted, he hopes for something more permanent.

“I think we’re looking for something more concrete than this being able to go back and forth via executive order every four years. This is something that should get passed into law similar to how the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell took place,” Robertson said. “That way we don’t have to continuously serve under fear of what might happen next throughout our career.”

The latest executive order ensures that no one will be separated or discharged from the military or denied re-enlistment on the basis of gender identity. An estimated 15,000 service members identify as transgender. Sgt. Nemic says you can almost hear a collective sigh of relief.

“It’s been a huge weight off of our shoulders, and now we have policy to back up us serving,” Nemic said.

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Cases in which transgender service members were discharged from the military because of their gender identity will be re-examined.

Reg Chapman