As military services await guidance following President Donald Trump’s announcement last week via Twitter of a ban on transgender service members, the commandant of the Coast Guard is speaking out, saying he has no intention of leaving transgender Coast Guardsmen out in the cold.
Speaking on the topic for the first time at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday morning, Adm. Paul Zukunft said his first action upon becoming aware of Trump’s tweets was to have his office reach out to all 13 members of the Coast Guard who have self-identified as transgender.
“I reached out personally to Lt. Taylor Miller, who was featured on the cover of The Washington Post last week,” Zukunft said. “If you read that story, Taylor’s family has disowned her. Her family is the United States Coast Guard. And I told Taylor, ‘I will not turn my back. We have made an investment in you, and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard, and I will not break faith.’ ”
Miller, 27, is reportedly the first openly transitioning member of the Coast Guard, a process she began in 2016 after the Pentagon removed its standing ban on openly transgender service members and then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered all services to draft policies to allow for transgender recruits and transgender medical care within the military.
The Coast Guard is the only military service to fall under the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the Department of Defense. But how Trump’s tweeted ban will affect the service is just as unclear as with any of the others.