The US military will continue to permit transgender individuals to serve openly until Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has received President Donald Trump's "direction" to change the policy and figured out how to implement it, America's top military officer said Thursday. In a memo to all military service chiefs, commanders, and enlisted military leaders, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "there will be no modifications" to current policy for now, amid questions about Trump's announcement on Twitter that the US government will not "accept or allow" transgender people to serve in any capacity in the military, the AP reports. "I know there are questions about yesterday's announcement," Dunford began, adding that nothing would change until the president's direction has been received by Mattis and Mattis has issued "implementation guidance."
The Dunford statement suggests that Mattis was given no presidential direction on changing the transgender policy. Mattis has been on vacation this week and has been publicly silent amid questions about Trump's announced ban. His spokesmen declined to comment Thursday. On Wednesday they said the Pentagon would work with the White House and provide revised guidance to the military "in the near future." Dunford himself was not aware that Trump was going to announce the ban, a US official said. Trump's announcement caught the Pentagon flat-footed and unable to explain what it called Trump's "guidance." The Navy is in sync with Dunford's direction: In an email obtained by USA Today, Vice Adm. Robert Burke said transgender sailors will not be discharged and will continue to receive medical treatment until the White House issues clear guidance.