WASHINGTON – The top U.S. uniformed military officer said Monday that he has told the White House that he does not think transgender service members should be discharged from the force because of their gender identity alone, provided they are medically stable.
“I believe that 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,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) asked him on whether he agrees that transgender troops have served with “honor and valor.”
Dunford was before the committee to testify at his confirmation hearing to be reappointed for another two-year term as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of the seven-member body of senior uniformed military leaders who advise the President and the Defense Secretary on matters military related matters.
The White House changed policy matters related to transgender troops in July. The White House gave the Defense Department guidance on the matter several weeks later. The guidance left it up to the Defense Department to decide the fate of currently serving transgender troops. The guidance indefinitely barred the enlistment of transgender troops, and cut funding for transition surgery.
The Defense Department has until Feb. 21 to by give the White House guidance on service by transgender troops, some of whom may have reported their gender identity to the military when President Barack Obama rolled back a restriction on their service in June 2016.