WASHINGTON — The military’s policy permitting transgender individuals to serve remains in place, the country’s highest military officer said on Thursday, clarifying some of the confusion surrounding President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter that transgender people would no longer be accepted or allowed in the military.
In a letter to the military service chiefs, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the policy on who is allowed to serve will not change until the White House sends the Defense Department a rules change and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines.
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” Dunford said in the letter, first reported by Reuters. “As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”
Dunford’s guidance is the first indication from the Pentagon about one of the central questions that arose from Trump’s abrupt announcement, made in a series of tweets Wednesday: What will happen to transgender people serving around the world?
Trump’s announcement surprised military leaders at the Pentagon, who considered the matter largely settled after President Barack Obama last year granted transgender people the right to serve openly. It also infuriated civil rights groups, which threatened lawsuits, and created an uproar among transgender people on active duty.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, did not answer on Wednesday when asked what would happen to those currently serving in the…
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