No changes yet to transgender policy: top US general
The United States’ top general says there’s been no change to Pentagon policy on transgender personnel after President Donald Trump’s announcement of plans to ban them appeared to catch senior officers by surprise.
Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, began his note on Thursday to service chiefs, commanders and senior enlisted leaders by acknowledging the uncertainty following Trump’s announcement.
“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the president,” Dunford wrote.
“There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defence and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance,” Dunford said in the message.
Dunford then made the assurance that the US military would “treat all of our personnel with respect”.
Retired Navy SEAL says transgender ban ‘catastrophe’
Trump made his announcement on Wednesday morning in a series of Twitter postings, saying he would ban transgender people from the US military.
The move appeals to some in his conservative political base but creates vast uncertainty for active-duty and reserve transgender service members, who say they number in the thousands.
The White House said Trump had “extensive discussions with his national security team,” and that Defence Secretary Jim Mattis was informed after the president made the decision on Tuesday to go ahead.
But the chief of staff of the US Army, General Mark Milley, said on Thursday he had no advance knowledge of Trump’s decision before his announcement via Twitter.
Trump cited “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as a justification for the ban, a point disputed by experts and advocates for allowing military service to be determined by an individual’s capabilities, not gender identity or sexual preference.
Trump’s tweet appeared to pre-empt an ongoing Pentagon review looking at allowing openly transgender recruits to join the military.
Trump’s plan to ban transgender service members unleashed a storm of legal threats from advocates who say they are seeking plaintiffs who want to sue.
If the Defence Department actively identifies transgender people and discharges them from the military, the Pentagon is likely to face an especially contentious fight, legal experts say.
Trump plan to reintroduce a transgender military ban