Transgender People Can Still Serve for Now, U.S. Military Says

From The New York Times:

July 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — Transgender people can continue to serve in the military for now, Pentagon leaders said on Thursday, scrambling to clarify the confusion surrounding President Trump’s abrupt announcement a day earlier that transgender people would no longer be accepted or allowed in uniform.

In a letter to the military service chiefs, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the policy on who is allowed to serve would not change until the White House sends the Defense Department new rules and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines.

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” General Dunford said in the letter.

Dana White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, said the Defense Department would provide detailed guidance in the “near future” on how Mr. Trump’s tweets will be turned into policy.

The open-ended nature of their comments reflected the challenge facing the Pentagon: how to put in place a policy that was announced without a plan to do so.

In announcing a reversal of previous policy in three tweets, Mr. Trump upended years of debate at the Pentagon over how to treat men and women in the military who do not identify with the gender that they appeared at birth. Lawmakers and stakeholders in both parties said that making such a sudden announcement without a plan to carry it out demonstrated the folly of Mr. Trump’s attempt to govern by tweet.

“I respect the leadership at the Pentagon, and the deliberative way they have done this,” said Tyler Deaton, a senior adviser to American Unity Fund, a Republican advocacy group that supports rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “I think now the only person who disagrees with their approach in a formal way is the president. And the only indication we have is a tweet storm on a Wednesday morning in July.”

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