'All patriots' should be able to serve, says new Navy secretary

US Navy Secretary  Richard V. Spencer.   US  Navy

US Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer. US Navy

When asked about President Trump's recent tweets about prohibiting military service for transgender people, Spencer said the Navy will follow whatever plan the president develops. "As you know, it's been a very complicated issue for the military, it's been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I'm doing the military a great favor". I got a lot of votes. "On a fundamental basis, any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military".

On Aug. 9, five transgender military service members filed a lawsuit against Trump for his stalled ban.

But the service members say the Obama-era policy created an expectation they relied on, including informing their commanding officers they are transgender and undergoing medical treatment related to gender transition.

After Trump's tweets, Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military's transgender policy will remain unchanged until the White House sends the Pentagon an official directive.

His announcement came with little or no coordination with the Pentagon and landed while Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was on vacation, leaving the astonished department scrambling to come up with a coherent response.

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Spencer was confirmed earlier this month, a week after Trump's transgender ban.

'I have great respect for the community, ' he said. While exact numbers are unknown, the Pentagon estimated in 2016 that there were between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender Americans serving out of 1.3 million active duty service members in the U.S. Armed Forces. To discharge the transgender troops would cost nearly $1 billion - $960 million to be exact, according to the Palm Center, an independent research institute. The Pentagon commissioned a Rand Corp. study previous year that estimates as many as 11,000 transgender military personnel are on active duty and in the reserves.

Several other civil rights groups have pledged to mount lawsuits against the Trump administration if the transgender ban goes into effect.

"And I think I'm doing the military a great favor". "It directly contradicts the military's own careful, recent conclusion - reached after a comprehensive review process - that there is no reason to ban transgender soldiers from serving".

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