U.S. Joint Chiefs Were Unaware of Trump’s Ban on Transgender Service Members

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford / Getty Images
• July 27, 2017 12:22 pm


The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff were unaware that President Donald Trump planned to announce on Twitter a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, according to a CNN report.

Trump announced his decision Wednesday morning in a series of tweets, prefacing the announcement by saying that it was made in consultation with generals and military experts.

Trump said the military should be focused on "decisive" and "overwhelming" victory, and that the services cannot be "burdened" by the medical costs and disruption that he believes would result from allowing transgender individuals to serve.

Transgender service members have been able to openly serve since June 2016, when the Obama administration lifted a long-standing ban.

Several top defense officials were not aware of Trump's policy change until they saw the president's tweets, according to CNN.

"One of the heads of the military branches was informed by a staffer of the president's tweets on transgender policy and had no idea it was coming, an official said," CNN reported.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis was consulted on Trump's decision, but it is unclear if he knew when and how the president would announce the policy change.

There appears to be some confusion on the details of Trump's policy change. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders failed to provide details during Wednesday's press briefing about the new policy and what will happen with transgender service members who are actively serving today. Sanders mentioned that the White House and Defense Department would work together "as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully."

Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford wrote a letter on Thursday saying there would be no policy change until there were specific directions from Trump.

"There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president's direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance," Dunford wrote.