The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has suggested that he advised against an absolute ban on transgender troops – despite claims from President Trump.
Earlier this year Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce that he would impose a ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military.
The President tweeted: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Despite claiming that the decision was taken “after consultation with my Generals”, insiders have claimed that Trump was acting unilaterally to appease anti-LGBT Republican lawmakers, and did not consult with military leadership beforehand.
The most senior general in the US Military, General Joseph Dunford, added fuel to the fire this week when he also appeared to contradict Trump’s claim.
General Dunsford is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces, serving as the principal military advisor to the President, National Security Council, Homeland Security Council, and Secretary of Defense.
The General was appearing before Congress when Senator Kirsten Gillibrand asked about trans troops.
General Dunford replied: “I would say that I believe that any individual who meets the physical and mental standards and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve.”
Asked to give assurances to transgender troops, he said: “I can promise that that will be my advice. What I just articulated is the advice I provided in private, and I’ve just provided in public.”
Senator Gillibrand also asked Dunford if he had met with transgender troops to address their concerns about the potential new policy.
He said: “I have not since August when the announcement was made, but I will certainly do that, Senator.”
Senator Gillibrand is one of the lawmakers behind a bill intended to block the trans ban from going ahead. She is supported by Republican Senators Susan Collins and John McCain, two of the most frequent rebels against Trump.
Defense Secretary James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis is pushing ahead with the administration’s plans to ban transgender people from the military.
In the face of multiple civil rights lawsuits, Trump administration officials are drawing up plans to block recruitment of any military personnel who identify as transgender, while working on plans to ‘purge’ existing soldiers from next year.
The administration is facing a string of legal challenges.
The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to fight Trump on the issue, filing a challenge on behalf of trans troops.