Paul Zukunft, head of the U.S. Coast Guard, announced Tuesday that he will not turn his back on transgender service members. Following President Trump’s Tweets announcing that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, Adm. Zukunft felt the need to voice his support regardless of the President’s decision. Trump stated that transgender people are a “burden” of “tremendous medical costs” for the military.
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft spoke about his support of transgender troops in D.C. on Tuesday.
“The first thing we did [after Trump's announcement] is we reached out to all 13 members of the Coast Guard who have come out under a policy who declared themselves transgender,” he stated. Adm. Zukunft even personally reached out to Lt. Taylor Miller who was featured on the cover of The Washington Post recently. Her family has abandoned her since she came out as transgender. Zukunft said “Her family is the United States Coast Guard."
Following President Trump’s announcement, Adm. Zukunft reached out to other government officials on behalf of transgender troops.
First, Adm. Zukunft contacted new Chief of Staff and former secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly. According to Adm. Zukunft, Kelly then reached out to the Secretary of Defense. Adm. Zukunft and the rest of the coast guard have also assembled a team of lawyers on behalf of transgender troops.
When Sarah Sanders was questioned about Adm. Zufunkt’s attempts for equality during a White House briefing Wednesday, she said "I haven't heard those comments or had a chance to speak with any[one] about it, but I know that the goal is to work with all of the relevant departments, primarily the Department of Defense, to lawfully implement that new policy."
Army and Navy personnel, as well as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that transgender troops are currently, and until further action is taken by President Trump and the proper changes are lawfully made, treated with the same respect as any other service member.
Currently, there is an estimated 1,300 to 6,600 transgender service members among the branches of military in active service.