Coast Guard Commandant: “I will not turn my back” on transgender individuals serving in the military

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Adm. Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, speaks to the Corps of Cadets and presents awards at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Jan. 7, 2015. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard Brahm/U.S. Coast Guard)

WASHINGTON — In the first public comments by any of the service branch’s leaders, Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said he’ll support the 13 openly transgenders currently serving in the Coast Guard.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Zukunft said the Coast Guard reached out to those 13 members following the trio of tweets from President Trump barring transgender individuals from serving in the military.

Zukunft’s comments were first reported by The Hill.

Read: LGBT advocacy org. on transgender ban: ‘We have every intention of challenging it in court

Among those contacted by the Coast Guard was Lt. Taylor Miller, who was highlighted in a Washington Post feature piece last week. Miller is the Coast Guard’s first openly transitioning member.

“If you read that story, Taylor’s family has disowned her,” Zukunft 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.”

“And so that was the commitment to our people right now. Very small numbers, but all of them are doing meaningful Coast Guard work today,” Zukunft said.

The Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, although it is still considered one of the four military service branches.  It would still be subject to any military policy the President or Department of Defense might issue.

Trump made national news on Wednesday, when he tweeted out that “after consultation with my Generals and military experts”  the US would not “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

The problem was: it doesn’t appear that he did consult with his generals and military experts.  Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford appeared to be caught off guard.

Read: Top Army general learned about Trump’s transgender ban via news reports

Zukunft offered at today’s event that he reached out to Gen. John Kelly, then-Secretary of Homeland Security, now White House Chief of Staff. Gen. Dunford has said the Department of Defense policy remains the same until the White House issues a directive with details.

 

ConnectingVets reporters Matt Saintsing and Jake Hughes discussed Trump’s transgender ban.

 

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