Coast Guard won’t ban transgender members without direct policy barring them

Coast Guard won’t ban transgender members without direct policy barring them
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The head of the U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday said it will continue allowing transgender members to serve in the military branch until a policy officially bans transgender troops.

Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft told lawmakers that the Coast Guard is “certainly committed” to transgender individuals’ continued service in the military branch.

Zukunft was responding to a question from Rep. David PriceDavid Eugene PriceHouse panel approves measure requiring masks on public transport Overnight Energy: 350 facilities skip reporting water pollution | Panel votes to block Trump's 'secret science' rule | Court upholds regulation boosting electric grid storage Committee votes to block Trump's 'secret science' EPA rule MORE (D-N.C.) who asked for an update on the Coast Guard's position on the matter.

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“Seems to me this is an invented problem and a waste of time and dollars and military resources by targeting these dedicated service members who've proved their fitness and their ability to serve,” Price said during a House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing.

Zukunft said that of the United States Coast Guard’s more than 40,000 active-duty members, there are 17 known individuals who have identified as transgender or have transitioned into another sex — one happens to serve on Zukunft’s personal staff.

“I work with the chairman. I work with the other service chiefs as we look at the policy going forward. We will make sure that there is one policy for all service members,” he said, adding that the issue still needs to be “reconciled” between all military branches.

Zukunft last August said Coast Guard officials reached out personally to their transgender service members to express support and to say they “will not break faith” following President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE’s announcement of a new policy barring transgender people from serving in the military. 

Trump declared on Twitter last July that the Pentagon would “not accept or allow” transgender people to serve “in any capacity.”

Since then, the policy has faced several legal challenges, including several court orders to halt the ban.

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Trump moved forward last month with his plan, with the White House releasing a memorandum at the time outlining policies set by Defense Secretary James Mattis. The memo stated that transgender people are "disqualified from military service except under limited circumstances."

But a federal judge ruled late Friday that the injunctions put in place to halt Trump’s ban should remain in place.

The Coast Guard operates under the Department of Homeland Security but is a branch of the U.S. armed forces and would fall under the transgender ban.