Last week, Donald Trump stirred major controversy when he took to Twitter to announce a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Although controversial, there are legitimate fears about the impact on the readiness of our military if transgender troops are allowed to openly serve. Predictably, liberals ignored those justifications and labeled the policy bigoted.
While there is room for reasonable debate on the merits of the ban, military leaders aren’t in a position to openly engage in such a discussion. President Trump is commander in chief of the armed forces, so any military leader is bound to follow his orders. However, one military leader has hinted that he has no intention of doing so.
As military services await guidance following President Donald Trump’s announcement last week via Twitter of a ban on transgender service members, the commandant of the Coast Guard is speaking out, saying he has no intention of leaving transgender Coast Guardsmen out in the cold.
Speaking on the topic for the first time at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday morning, Adm. Paul Zukunft said his first action upon becoming aware of Trump’s tweets was to have his office reach out to all 13 members of the Coast Guard who have self-identified as transgender.
Just for reference, the Coast Guard has 38,000 active-duty people, 8,000 Reservists, and 35,000 Auxiliarists. That’s a total of 81,000 people. Thirteen represents .016 percent of the total number serving. Even if we assume the 13 transgenders are all active-duty, that’s still only .03 percent.
However, the Coast Guard is unique to the other branches:
The Coast Guard is the only military service to fall under the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the Department of Defense. But how Trump’s tweeted ban will affect the service is just as unclear as with any of the others.
As they wait on further guidance from the White House, military leaders of all branches have yet to take action on the ban. Although the president signaled his intentions on Twitter, he has not made the policy official or issued orders on how to implement it.
At this point, it remains unclear how the policy will impact current transgender service members. After the change of policy by the Obama administration, many currently serving opened up about their gender status. It is possible that the new guidance could call for their removal from service. If it does, military leaders will have no choice but to follow it.
[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]