Joint Chiefs Chair Says No Changes To Military’s Transgender Policy Yet

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, listens during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense budget, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The highest-ranking officer in the U.S. military on Thursday said no changes will be made to the policy allowing transgender individuals to serve until President Donald Trump offers further direction.

In a memo to the the joint chiefs, commanders and senior enlisted advisers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military’s policy on transgender individuals will not change until Trump’s announced ban travels through the legally mandated chain of command.

“There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s guidance has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote. “In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”

Trump on Wednesday announced in a series of tweets that the U.S. government “will not accept or allow” transgender individuals to serve in the military “in any capacity.”

Pressed for details on what Trump’s announcement meant for transgender individuals currently serving or deployed, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would not say whether they would be thrown out.

Asked whether the administration should have figured that out before Trump announced the policy, Sanders said Trump made the decision a day before announcing it and “immediately informed” Defense Secretary James Mattis and “the rest of the national security team.”

“I think sometimes you have to make decisions and once he made a decision, he didn’t feel it was necessary to hold that decision,” she said.

She then threatened to end the briefing early if reporters kept asking questions about the major policy change.

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Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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