Adm. Paul Zukunft | YouTube, The National Press Club

The Facts

  • During a discussion about maritime security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Tuesday, Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft said he “will not turn his back” on members of the Coast Guard who identify as transgender despite President Donald Trump’s proposed ban of transgender servicemen and women.
    • On 26 July, Trump announced a prohibition on transgender individuals serving in the military.
  • Zukunft said he discussed Trump’s transgender ban with 13 active Coast Guard members who identify as transgender, including Lt. Taylor Miller, who was featured in the Washington Post last week. Zukunft said he told Miller:

“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 is the commitment to our people right now. Very small numbers, but all of them are doing meaningful Coast Guard work today.”

  • Zukunft said after talking to the members of the Coast Guard who identify as transgender, he “reached out immediately to now my former secretary, John Kelly, who also reached out to the secretary of defense. We’ve stood up a tiger team of our JAG officers.”
  • According to a memo from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, there will be “no modifications to the current policy,” which allows individuals who identify as transgender to serve in the military, until direct instructions are given by the Secretary of Defense.

The Context

  • According to a 2016 study by the RAND Corporation, there are an estimated 1,320–6,630 transgender individuals actively serving in the military.
  • When asked about the details of the transgender ban in a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:

“Implementation policy is going to be something that the White House and the Department of Defense have to work together to lawfully determine, and I would imagine the Department of Defense will be the lead on that and keep you posted as that takes place.”

  • In June 2016, the Department of Defense announced a policy that would allow transgender service members to enlist and serve openly.
    • The military also announced it would pay for sex-reassignment surgeries. This policy was to go in effect by 1 July 2017.
  • On 30 June 2017, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the policy allowing transgender individuals to enter the military would be delayed until 2018.

Critics of the transgender ban

  • Human Rights Campaign tweeted their support for Zukunft.

  • 56 retired generals and admirals wrote a letter to The Palm Center saying a transgender ban “would degrade military readiness.”

Supporters of the transgender Ban

  • On Friday, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry told reporters, according to the Texas Tribune:

“I totally support the president in his decision. The idea that the American people need to be paying for these types of operations to change your sex is not very wise from a standpoint of economics.”

“Throwing people who are already struggling with their own identity, psychologically and, in their minds, physically, into a combative, war-torn, physically-demanding, mentally-exhausting environment may make units fall apart, thereby rendering the military less effective than before.”

Video of Adm. Zukunft’s Discussion with CSIS: 

Elizabeth Rhodes contributed to this report.

The Whim News Team

The Whim News Desk

We'd rather be second and accurate than be first and wrong. The Whim News Desk is a dedicated team of researchers and investigators committed to presenting the news without bias. Follow us @TheWhimOnline for daily news coverage without the spin!

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