KILLEEN, Texas — President Joe Biden continues to address equity issues he believes shadow aspects of American life.
One of those issues is a ban ordered by former President Donald Trump during his first year in office. Biden reversed the ban on transgender people serving in the military.
Spectrum News 1 sat down with a Killeen professor who has dedicated more than a decade of her time to researching this very topic. A&M Central Texas Associate Professor in Sociology Dr. Michelle Dietert served in the U.S. military as a combat medic from 1987 to 1995.
"In my day, individuals could get kicked out if they were known to be gay or lesbian," explained Dietert.
Dietert spends a lot of her time analyzing workplace discrimination. She discovered her interest in transgender issues in graduate school and she has been researching the topic ever since, and that includes research involving transgender service members.
"Well, I wanted to know a little bit more about what individuals who had worked with transgender people thought about their service, and I asked some questions that had to do with some of the ideas that have been kind of out there,” said Dietert. “That the reason for Trump's ban had to do with the fact that, you know, they shouldn't receive, health care would be too expensive for them, that they are, you know, would be a threat to national security, those types of questions."
Dietert explained, while it can be difficult to get people to speak up about the topic, she hopes her research will eventually impact policy.
"It's important because there's not a lot of research that has talk with veterans that I know of, about their experiences working with transgender people or active duty for that matter,” explained Dietert. “So there needs to be more scholarly research on the topic, so that we can make change."
President Biden recently signed an executive order to reverse a policy that largely barred transgender people from joining the military.
"It celebrates diversity and anyone who wants to serve their country should be able to do so without being afraid to do that,” said Dietert.
Dietert is optimistic her research will help pave the way.