WASHINGTON — The commandant of the Coast Guard said Tuesday that he would continue to support transgender troops under his command, despite Twitter posts by President Trump saying the government would not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the military.
The commandant, Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, said his office had reached out to the 13 Coast Guard members who self-identify as transgender after seeing the president’s tweets.
“That is the commitment to our people right now,” Admiral Zukunft said. “Very small numbers, but all of them are doing meaningful Coast Guard work today.”
He made the comment during an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here on Tuesday morning. The admiral’s speech was first reported by The Hill, a newspaper serving Congress.
Admiral Zukunft later declined further comment.
In three tweets last week, Mr. Trump expressed his desire to restrict transgender troops from serving in the military.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” the president said.
The White House has yet to provide guidance to the military on how a ban on transgender troops would be carried out.
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a memo to military commanders that the Pentagon would not make any policy changes until it was instructed to do so.
“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,” General Dunford said.
It is unclear how the Coast Guard will protect its transgender troops if the president does order a ban.
Although it is a military service, the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the Defense Department.
Since Mr. Trump’s tweets specifically mentioned the Defense Department, it is unclear how a potential ban would affect the Coast Guard.
A ban on transgender troops would reverse the gradual transformation of the military under President Barack Obama, whose administration announced last year that transgender people could serve openly in the military. Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, also opened all combat roles to women and appointed the first openly gay Army secretary.