The recently confirmed secretary of the Navy says he will follow any order the president gives on transgender troops, but that “any patriot” should be allowed to serve.
“We will process and take direction of a policy that is developed by the [Defense] secretary [with] direction from the president and march out smartly,” Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer told reporters Thursday night after visiting Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.
"On a fundamental basis, any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military."
Spencer was confirmed a week after President Trump tweeted that he plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military.
On Thursday, Trump said he thinks he’s “doing the military a great favor” by banning transgender troops.
“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,” he said from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.
During his confirmation hearing last month, Spencer said he believes that individual military branches should not be a “petri dish for social experiments.” He added that by that he means policies should be developed by the Pentagon as a whole.
“I totally believe that policy should be developed at the [Department of Defense] level, and then discussed and socialized and deployed and then obeyed,” he continued. “We have to work together, including all our service people, to make sure that they are given what they need, whether that be spiritually, whether that be psychologically, whether that's materialistically, to fight forward so that — so readiness is the key and lethality is the product.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford has said the military’s transgender policy will remain unchanged until the White House send the Pentagon over an official directive, which has yet to happen.
Meanwhile, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft has pledged not to “break faith” with his transgender service members.
Two LGBT rights groups sued the president earlier this week on behalf of five transgender troops, arguing Trump’s intended ban violates their equal protection and due process rights under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.