Joint chiefs nominee: Trump's transgender policy about 'standards'

Joint chiefs nominee: Trump's transgender policy about 'standards'
© Aaron Schwartz

The nominee to be the U.S. military’s top uniformed official on Thursday said that President TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE’s policy banning most transgender people from serving in the military is a matter of "standards.”

“In my view, we’re a standards-based military,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing. “We’re concerned about the deployability and effectiveness of any of the service members.”

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Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Hillicon Valley: Facebook tightens teen protections | FBI cautions against banning ransomware payments | Republicans probe White House-social media collaboration Top FBI official advises Congress against banning ransomware payments MORE (D-Hawaii) asked Milley, who is nominated to be the next Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, whether he would still impose the controversial ban if the president hadn’t already done so.

“If you meet the medical, the behavior health, the conduct standards and the physical standards, etc., then it’s my view that you should be welcomed in and allowed,” Milley replied.

“I don’t believe there’s anything inherent in anyone’s identity to prevent them from serving in the military. It’s about standards, not an identity,” he added.

Trump in July 2017 tweeted that transgender individuals would no longer be able to “serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”

The administration’s policy took effect in April and bans most transgender people from serving in the military unless they serve as their biological sex. Currently serving transgender service members or anyone who had already signed an enlistment contract was grandfathered in under the Obama administration's 2016 open service policy and can continue to serve openly and receive medical care.

The Trump administration and its allies deny that its policy is a ban because of these allowances.

Milley continued that rhetoric, reiterating that the new guidance is “not a ban.”

His hearing took place hours before the House approved an amendment to the annual defense policy bill aimed at reversing Trump’s policy.

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would ensure that any person who meets gender-neutral occupational standards can serve in the military regardless of race, color, national origin, religion or sex, including gender identity or sexual orientation.