Highest-ranking US military officer says no change on transgender policy – for now

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford getty

The highest-ranking officer in the US military has rushed to play down Donald Trump’s announcement of a transgender ban, saying there will be no action taken for now.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote to military leaders today to assure them that nothing has yet changed in the military’s inclusion of trans people.

In the message, seen by Reuters, General Dunford said there would be “no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford


The General – who also served under President Barack Obama – added, perhaps pointedly: “In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.

“As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focussed on accomplishing our assigned missions.”

The letter emphasises the shock at Trump’s announcement, even from figures in the highest levels of the US government, who seem to have been unaware of the President’s intentions.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was reportedly “not aware” of what Trump was planning to do.

And Republican Senator John McCain publicly challenged the proposed ban, saying there was “no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military – regardless of their gender identity.

“We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so – and should be treated as the patriots they are.”

The ban, announced by the President in three short tweets, sparked outrage from LGBT people across the world and was condemned by everyone from former Vice President Joe Biden to acting star Laverne Cox.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford getty


The positions of 15,000 trans people in the military are now in immediate danger – not to mention trans citizens who will fear the cultural changes which this ban could produce.

Navy SEAL Team 6 member Kristin Beck, who served for 20 years in the unit whose troops killed Osama Bin Laden, challenged Trump to tell her that she was “not worthy” to her face.

The ban was announced despite the revelation that the Pentagon spends 10 times more on erectile dysfunction medication than it would on trans medical expenses.

The American Civil Liberties Union vowed to fight back against Trump’s decision by representing anyone affected by the ban.

And talk show host James Corden fought back in his own way, with a clever parody of Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E which cut to the core of Trump’s insecurities and ignorance.