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During Oshkosh Visit, Secretary Says Air Force Will Try To Clarify Transgender Policy Change

Joint Chiefs Chairman Says No Policy Change Until Trump Clarifies

Heather Wilson
Jake Schoellkopf/AP Photo

There won’t be modifications to existing policy on transgender service members until President Donald Trump provides more information, top Pentagon officials said on Thursday.

The announcement comes a day after Trump took to Twitter to say no transgender people would be allowed to serve in the military.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. 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. Thank You,” Trump tweeted.

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The president’s remarks sparked outrage from LGBTQ veterans groups and bi-partisan condemnation in Congress.

When asked Wednesday about Trump’s tweets shortly after they were posted, U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson took a measured tone.

“The Air Force will work with the (U.S.) Department of Defense and the White House to understand and clarify the decision of the commander-in-chief,” she said.

Wilson, who came to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual Fly-In in Oshkosh, stuck to that answer when asked what could happen to transgender service members serving and if they would be allowed to continue to serve if the president’s proposed ban goes into effect.

In 2016, the Obama administration allowed openly transgender people to serve in the military.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who is on vacation this week, hasn’t spoken publicly about Trump’s proposed policy change. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford, told top military leaders on Thursday there are “no modifications” to the military’s policy on transgender service members.

ABC News reported Thursday that Gen. David Goldfein, the top Air Force officer, sent a note internally to his force on Thursday. The note said he and Wilson “emphasize that all airmen will be treated with dignity and respect as we work through the potential policy changes” coming from the White House.

Wilson was sworn in as Air Force Secretary in May.