Coast Guard Commandant: We “Will Not Break Faith” With Transgender Personnel

"We have made an investment in you and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard," said Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.

As the White House and Pentagon begin to strategize on implementing a ban on transgender service members, the Coast Guard has made it clear it stands by its personnel.

On Tuesday, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft told attendees at an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that, after the ban was tweeted, “The first thing we did is we reached out to all 13 members of the Coast Guard who have come out” as transgender.

While the Coast Guard falls under the auspices of Homeland Security, it is a branch of the Armed Forces and would be affected by the transgender ban.

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Zukunft spoke with Lt. Taylor Miller, the first openly transitioning officer in the Coast Guard and the subject of a Washington Post profile this week.

“If you read that story, Taylor’s family has disowned her,” said Zukunft. “I told Taylor, ’I will not turn my back [on you]. We have made an investment in you and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard and I will not break faith.”

He added that while the number of out trans personnel was small, “all of them are doing meaningful Coast Guard work today.”

Zukunft reached out to ex-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who is now White House chief of staff, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis about the ban and possible legal recourses.

Last June, following the Pentagon’s lifting of the ban on trans service members, Zukunft stated that “all qualified people who wish to serve in our nation’s military should have the opportunity to do so.”

Despite Trump’s assurances that he consulted “my generals and military experts,” Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Joseph Dunford and Senate Armed Forces Committee chair John McCain both indicated they were caught off guard by the announcement.

“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 told senior staffers in a statement.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.