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Good morning, Broadsheet Readers! Stitch Fix Founder Katrina Lake Joins Billionaires Club, Harriet Tubman’s $ 20 Bill Is Back On Track And Biden’s The Department of Defense takes a position on gender issues. Have a thoughtful Tuesday.
– Defense is taking action. The choice of President Joe Biden’s defense secretary was one of his most talked about cabinet positions, with the final choice being former undersecretary of defense Michele Flournoy and retired General Lloyd Austin, who eventually won the position.
The choice disappointed some of the women who fired at Flournoy to break the Defense Department’s glass ceiling. But Austin – who is himself the first Black Defense secretary – is quick to show that issues of gender and identity will be at the forefront of his and Biden’s agenda for the DOD.
Last weekend, Austin instructed Pentagon leaders to review their efforts to prevent and address sexual harassment in the military. His brief for his reports was even more ambitious than Biden’s 90-day commission to find solutions to military assault. “I don’t want to wait 90 days to take action,” Austin wrote in a memo. From the murder of Private Vanessa Guillen to the more recent attack and death of Private Asia Graham, it is clear that time – as always – is of the essence in this matter.
Then, on Monday, Biden overturned President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military and restored Obama-era protections for trans service members. Austin and General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stood next to Biden in the Oval Office for the signing.
After four years of a government that was on the other side of gender identity issues and tended to be more lenient towards those accused of sexual harassment – as seen in Betsy DeVos’ decisions in the Education Department – it is Unsurprisingly, these two issues are top priorities for the new White House.
What’s new is Austin’s urgency to address this issue aside from his boss’s broader agenda. The military sexual harassment directive was the very first since Austin was confirmed for the position. “This is a leadership issue,” the secretary wrote in his memo. “We will lead.”