The head of the Coast Guard has broken ranks with President Trump and pledged to stand by transgender service members under his command.
Trump announced last week, out of the blue, that after consulting with his “generals and military experts,” the United States government would “not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” He cited the cost of healthcare (which was later debunked) and “disruption” as his reasoning behind the decision.
In typical Trump fashion, the announcement was made via Twitter.
Fortunately, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said he would not turn his back on transgender service members.
“The first thing we did [after Trump’s announcement] is we reached out to all 13 members of the Coast Guard who have come out under a policy who declared themselves transgender,” Zukunft said, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Zukunft said he personally reached out to Lt. Taylor Miller, who was featured in the Washington Post last week.
“If you read that story, Taylor’s family has disowned her. Her family is the United States Coast Guard,” Zukunft said.
Miller had expressed in an interview with the Post how scary and upsetting Trump’s announcement was for herself and her fellow transgender service members.
“Taylor’s family has disowned her. Her family is the United States Coast Guard.”
“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,'” Zukunft said.
The White House has struggled to work out what the policy change would look like and, for example, what would happen to the 5,000 to 15,000 transgender personnel currently in active service. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, said in a letter last week that there will be no changes for transgender personnel until the president sends further guidance on the matter.
If such policy did come to pass, we can only hope other military commanders would stick up for their troops in the way Zukunft did.