Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft pledged not to “break faith” with all 13 transgender members of Coast Guard at a Tuesday event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Zukunft said he will not turn his back on transgender Coast Guardsmen in response to a question about the Coast Guard’s first response to President Donald Trump’s announcement last week that the U.S. government will not allow transgenders to serve in the military.
“The first thing we did is we reached out to all 13 members of the Coast Guard who have come out under a policy who declare themselves transgender,” Zukunft said Tuesday. “I reached out personally to Lt. Taylor Miller, who was featured on the cover of the Washington Post last week. If you read that story, Taylor’s family has disowned her. Her family is the United States Coast Guard.”
“And I told Taylor, I will not turn my back — we have made an investment in you, and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard, and I will not break faith. And so that is the commitment to our people right now — very small numbers, but all of them are doing very meaningful Coast Guard work today.”
Although a 2014 study from the Williams Institute estimated that “that approximately 15,500 transgender individuals are serving on active duty or in the Guard or Reserve forces,” the Coast Guard notably has just 13 transgender Coast Guardsmen. The same study also estimated that “8,800 transgender individuals are currently on active duty.”
There are approximately 38,000 members of the Coast Guard on active-duty, 8,00 reservists and 35,000 auxiliarists.
Notably, the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Defense.
Moreover, the Pentagon has not yet implemented Trump’s transgender ban, as it has not received any orders through official channels, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the White House is already starting to work with the Pentagon on policy implementation. At this point in time, it’s not clear if existing transgenders serving openly in the military will be grandfathered into the system based on the fact that former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter repealed the ban in June 2016.
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