President Donald Trump's newly appointed Navy Secretary, Richard V. Spencer, told reporters Thursday that "any patriot" who is qualified should be allowed to serve – a position that appeared to contradict Trump's recent announcement banning transgendered individuals from military service.
"On a fundamental basis, any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military," Spencer said, responding to a question regarding the proposed ban. He clarified that he would await orders from the Secretary of Defense.
Trump announced the ban in a series of tweets, and the military responded that it will not implement it as policy until Trump issues an official order. Gen. Joe Dunford (USMC), the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the service branches in a memo that there will be no modifications to policy "until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense." He added that in the interim, the military will "treat all of our personnel with respect."
The administration has not yet delivered a detailed plan, but on Thursday, Trump re-emphasized the merits of a ban. "I think I'm doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it," Trump told reporters. "As you know it's been a very complicated issue for the military, it's been a very confusing issue for the military and I think I'm doing the military a great favor."
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft appears to disagree: on August 1, he told a discussion panel in Washington that he "will not break faith" with the Coast Guard's 13 transgender servicemembers. “That was the commitment to our people right now. Very small numbers, but all of them are doing meaningful Coast Guard work today," he said.