Newly-confirmed Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer broke from President Donald Trump’s statement on transgenders by maintaining Thursday that anyone who wants to serve and meets standards should be allowed to do so.
Although Spencer told reporters in Norfolk, Va., that he would abide by Pentagon guidance on transgenders in the military, he personally believes that “any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military,” Reuters reports.
Trump announced via Twitter July 26 that the military would no longer allow transgenders to serve openly in the military, citing problems like medical costs and disruption. The announcement communicated an intention to reverse the Obama administration’s move to repeal the ban on open transgender service in 2016, but that intention has not yet been communicated to the Pentagon in the form of official policy guidance.
Other service heads have also offered very public support to transgenders. At a recent event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft pledged not to “break faith” with all 13 open transgender members of the Coast Guard. However, both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Coast Guard itself later confirmed to The Daily Caller News Foundation that the Coast Guard intends to follow the Pentagon’s lead on personnel policy. The Coast Guard notably falls under the DHS, rather than the Pentagon.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, followed up Trump’s announcement by stating that no changes will be made to the status of transgenders in the military until the Pentagon receives word via official channels of the decision.
In the meantime, House Democrats have urged both Dunford and Secretary of Defense James Mattis to ignore any official guidance that does come down the pipeline, claiming that Trump’s plan is unconstitutional. To that effect, two pro-LGBT legal groups have filed lawsuits on behalf of five anonymous transgender service members against Trump.
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