No ‘Good Estimate’ For Number Of Transgender Troops, As Pentagon ‘Stands By’ For Trump’s Order

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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The Department of Defense continues to await President Donald Trump’s official order barring transgender service members from the U.S. military, Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Monday.

Davis explained that the White House is leading the policy process before any formal guidance is issued to the military. The formal guidance will likely be issued in the form of a written order from Trump in his capacity of Commander in Chief. Trump made a surprise announcement barring transgender service-members from serving in “any capacity”  Wednesday in a series of tweets.

Trump’s series of tweets leave active-duty transgender troops in limbo regarding their future status in the U.S. military. Davis explained that the Pentagon does “not have a good estimate” for the number of active duty transgender troops. A June 2016 study by the RAND corporation puts the number at approximately 7,000. The order, however, will almost certainly lead to a ban on future transgender recruits and service academy applicants.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford clarified Thursday to all service chiefs that there will be “no modifications to current policy” until the Defense Department receives Trump’s order and official guidance is developed.

Prior to Trump’s announcement, reports indicated that service branches were having difficulty crafting integration policies for future transgender service members. The service’s objections appeared to stem from logistical rather than ideological concerns. The logistical concerns include a lack of funding for upgraded group showers and changes to service members’ living quarters.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that Secretary of Defense James Mattis was “immediately” informed of the decision after it was made and that the decision was made over “military readiness” concerns. Sanders emphasized Trump’s belief that transgender service members “erode military readiness and unit cohesion.”

“We will provide detailed guidance to the Department in the near future for how this policy change will be implemented. The Department will continue to focus on our mission of defending our nation and on-going operations against our foes, while ensuring all service members are treated with respect,” Pentagon Chief Spokeswoman Dana White said in a Thursday statement.

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