Retired Military Brass, Coast Guard Leader Oppose Trump's Trans Military Ban

Andrew Cummings
August 2, 2017

With the Pentagon awaiting direction from a White House that has provided little clarity beyond the president's three tweets last week, Zukunft's pledge could easily be construed as the opening salvo in a military-led push to prevent a total rollback of the 2016 decision that allowed transgender troops to serve openly.

In comments at a discussion panel Tuesday, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft indicated that under his command, the branch "will not break faith" with its transgender servicemembers - a position apparently at odds with a series of tweets from President Donald Trump announcing a ban on transgender individuals in the military. (There are likely far more transgender servicemembers, but they could only come out without fear of being discharged for the past year.) This included Lt. Taylor Miller, who was profiled last week in the Washington Post.

"Taylor's family has disowned her". While the massive response against Trump's policy wishes is temporary, however, that didn't stop the head of the U.S. Coast Guard from coming out against the policy in remarks given on Tuesday. 'I told Taylor, "I will not turn my back".

"We've stood up a tiger team of our [Judge Advocate General's Corps] officers", Zukunft said, referring to the legal branch of the Coast Guard.

"I haven't heard those comments or had a chance to speak with any [one] about it, but I know that the goal is to work with all of the relevant departments, primarily the Department of Defense, to lawfully implement that new policy", she said.

"President Trump seeks to ban transgender service members because of the financial cost and disruption associated with transgender service", the retired generals and admirals wrote.

The White House said the administration was still working to determine the specific details of the policy change, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders unable to say, for example, what would happen to transgender service members now on active duty. The Coast Guard is considered a part of the United States military, even though it falls under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security.

Zukunft said he had read a story in the Washington Post about a young lieutenant who had undergone gender reassignment surgery and was anxious about Trump's tweets that transgender troops would not be allowed "to serve in any capacity" in the military.

"The Commander in Chief has tweeted a total ban of honorably serving transgender troops", their statement said. "Patriotic transgender Americans who are serving - and who want to serve - must not be dismissed, deprived of medically necessary health care, or forced to compromise their integrity or hide their identity". Kelly reached out to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Zukunft said.

The US President said he would "not accept or allow" transgender people to serve "in any capacity".

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