Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday on the occasion of his reappointment to that role.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand asked him about transgender troops. Dunford said that the thousands of transgender troops currently serving had performed their duties with honor and valor.
If reappointed, can you promise currently-serving transgender individuals who have followed department policy and meet every requirement, as you just said -- as to them, that they will not be separated from the armed services based solely on their gender identity?
Dunford promised the senator that has been and would continue to be his advice.
These men and women, across all services and occupations, were told by the Department of Defense that they would be allowed to serve openly and continue in their military careers. Many have worked diligently within their chains of command to meet every requirement put forth by the former administration. Now, they have been plunged into a career of uncertainty, and their service and sacrifices have been unfairly tarnished. Many of us on the committee are deeply disturbed by the developments of the last few months.
I would just probably say that I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve.
Sen. Gillibrand asked the general if he had met with transgender troops since the ban was announced.
I have not, since the -- since, I guess, August, when the announcement was made. But I would certainly do that, Senator.
Gillibrand said the uncertainty facing transgender service members has been “deeply unsettling” to many members of the committee.
She noted that she has introduced bipartisan legislation with co-sponsors including committee chairman John McCain, a former U.S. Navy pilot who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, that would prevent the Pentagon from throwing out transgender personnel based solely on their gender identity.
Gen. Dunford's appointment is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate.