WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Thursday advised that the U.S. military will not make any changes to its transgender policy until President Donald Trump clarifies what he meant in a series of surprise tweets.
“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the president. There will 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,” Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a memo to military leaders.
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” Dunford added.
Pentagon leaders were left scrambling Wednesday after tweets from the president announcing a ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces. The tweets seemed to indicated a reversal of the transgender military ban lifted more than a year ago under President Barack Obama.
Pentagon officials did not seem to get much more guidance than the series of tweets sent by Trump.
Vice Admiral Robert Burke, chief of Naval Personnel, sent a memo Thursday announcing that the office of the secretary of defense “is working to quickly discern the President’s intent.”
Currently serving transgender service members will continue to receive medical treatment, Burke’s memo said. About 250 active duty service members have applied to change their gender since the ban was lifted, the Associated Press reported in June.
“Treating service members with dignity and respect is something we expect from our Sailors at all times,” Burke wrote.