President Donald Trump shocked the country and U.S. military leaders last week when he tweeted that transgender service members and enlistees would no longer be welcome. The ban, which was reportedly pushed hardest by Vice President Mike Pence and Steve Bannon, was summarily rejected by current and former U.S. soldiers, military leaders, and the greater public. While the massive response against Trump’s policy wishes is temporary, however, that didn’t stop the head of the U.S. Coast Guard from coming out against the policy in remarks given on Tuesday.
Commandant Paul Zukunft said he “will not turn my back” on his branch’s transgender enlistees at the Center for Strategic and International Studies forum in Washington. “We have made an investment in you and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard, and I will not break faith.” (The Coast Guard, as Politico notes, is actually a part of the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime. Whenever war breaks out, either Congress or the president may transfer it to the control of the U.S. Navy.) Following Trump’s tweets, Zukunft also reached out to the Coast Guard’s openly transgender members to “express his support.”
Meanwhile, per BuzzFeed News, the Palm Center released a statement in which 56 retired general and admirals from various branches of the U.S. armed forces came out against the White House’s new position. ” This proposed ban, if implemented, would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops,” it read. “As a result, the proposed ban would degrade readiness even more than the failed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.”