Coast Guard Breaks With Trump, Vows To Protect Transgender Service Members

USCGC Alder makes its way through the Grand River channel with USCGC Mackinaw not far behind for Coast Guard Festival on Monday, July 31, 2017 in Grand Haven, Mich. (Kaytie Boomer | (Kaytie Boomer |
Kaytie Boomer/Muskegon Chronicle

After the President announced in a tweet that transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in the military in “any capacity,” the head of the Coast Guard reached out to all 13 openly transgender Coast Guard personnel and said he would “not break faith” with them.

Commandant Paul Zukunft made these remarks at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday, CNN reported, describing his call to Lt. Taylor Miller, who is the first openly transitioning member of the 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,” Zukunft said. “And I will not break faith.”

Last week, President Donald Trump made a haphazard Twitter announcement about the policy change, saying he had consulted with “generals and military experts” about the matter and thinks the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

A Pentagon-commissioned report from 2016 found that there are about 2,450 transgender people serving currently and that it would cost about $2.9 to $4.2 million a year to fund hormone therapy and surgeries. The Department of Defense is currently studying the impact transgender individuals’ medical obligations could have on military readiness.

The President’s announcement on the policy change took the Pentagon and members of the administration by surprise, with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff saying there would be “no modifications” to the current policy until Trump provides guidance to the Department of Defense.   

If his tweets are followed up with any type of formal policy, the move would reverse an Obama-era policy that allowed transgender individuals to serve openly and blocked a person from being discharged from the military solely because they are a transgender, according to policy on the Department of Defense’s website.