Speed Reads

Lost in Transgender

At least one U.S. military chief is openly critical of Trump's transgender ban

When President Trump tweeted last week that "after consultation with my Generals and military experts" he had decided that transgender service members will no longer be allowed to "serve in any capacity in the U.S. military," it took just about everybody by surprise, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, leaders of the various military branches, key members of Congress, and Ivanka Trump. On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said that the military has not received any follow-up guidance or orders from the White House, though "we have no reason not to believe" that Trump won't send over an official policy directive at some point.

On Tuesday, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Adm. Paul Zukunft, said he has no plans to abandon the Coast Guard's transgender members, telling a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) forum that he has personally reached out to openly transgender personnel, including Lt. Taylor Miller, the first openly transitioning member of the Coast Guard. "Taylor's family has disowned her," he said. "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."

"That was the commitment to our people right now," Zukunft added, noting that there are currently 13 openly transgender Coast Guard members. "Very small numbers, but all of them are doing meaningful Coast Guard work today." The Coast Guard is housed in the Department of Homeland Security, but is a branch of the U.S. armed services and would be counted as such under a transgender ban. In times of war, the president or Congress can shift the Coast Guard to part of the U.S. Navy.