How the Military Is Responding to Trump's Transgender Order

July 27th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to order a ban on transgender individuals participating "in any capacity" in the military on Wednesday threw military leadership for a loop.

Though the president claimed to have consulted with "generals and military experts" prior to tweeting out the directive, leaders of various branches have expressed confusion about the order, and claimed that no official action in response to Trump's tweets would be taken until an official order is issued.

Here's how military leaders are responding to Trump's ban.

Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr

Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent out a statement to top military brass on Thursday that acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the president's tweets. He said that, "There will be no modification to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance."

"In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect," Dunford said. "As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions."

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, David Goldfein

Air Force Gen. David Goldfein

In a statement to branch personnel, Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein said that he and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson wanted to "emphasize that all Airmen will be treated with dignity and respect as we work through the potential policy changes" proposed by the president.

Chief of Naval Personnel Robert Burke

Chief of Naval Personnel Robert Burke

In a separate message to Navy admirals, Chief of Naval Personnel Robert Burke wrote that he understood that the president’s order is “causing concern for some of our Sailors and that they likely have questions." Though he said he’s unable to "answer many of them," he provided directions for admirals on where to send queries internally and outlined some initial recommendations.

For the time being, the Navy "will not take any personnel actions or change any policy until further guidance from the President is received," Burke said. "If a member is receiving medical care, that does not cease."

"With regard to implications for those currently serving, [the office of the secretary of defense] is working to quickly discern the President’s intent," he said. "Treating service members with dignity and respect is something we expect from our Sailors at all time."

Gen. Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army

us gen. mark milley

Like Dunford, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters her received no official guidance on how to implement the order laid out in the president's tweets. "When we get it, we'll go from there," Milley said.

In the meantime, Milley asserted that all servicemen and women would be treated with dignity and respect.

"The entire force, the entire chain of command [...] always has, will today, will tomorrow and always should treat every single soldier, sailor, airman, marine, [and] coastguardsman with dignity and respect for their service in the cloth of our nation. Bar none," Milley said.