Navy Secretary Breaks Silence On Trump’s Transgender Ban — Here’s What He Has To Say

The recently-confirmed secretary of the Navy says he will follow President Donald Trump’s surprise ban on transgender troops, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s happy about it.

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, who was confirmed by the Senate and sworn-in from the Pentagon in early August, told reporters Thursday that “any patriot” willing to serve his or her country — regardless of sexual orientation — should be free to do so, The Associated Press reported.

“On a fundamental basis, any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military,” Spencer said Thursday after visiting a naval base in Norfolk, Virginia.

But regardless of his personal opinions, he made clear the military branch will carry out whatever policy is developed by the Defense Department and the White House.

“We will process and take direction of a policy that is developed by the [Defense] secretary [with] direction from the president and march out smartly,” Spencer said, according to The Hill.

And during his confirmation hearings in July, the secretary said the military should not be a “Petri dish for social experiments,” adding that servicemen and women should be “given what they need, whether that be spiritually, whether that be psychologically, whether that’s materialistically, to fight forward ... so readiness is the key and lethality is the product.”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Late last month, Trump announced via Twitter that the U.S. military “will not accept or allow” transgender people to serve in the armed forces in “any capacity.”

The president doubled down on that controversial statement Thursday, telling reporters he believes he’s “doing the military a great favor” by barring transgender individuals from joining the fighting force.

“It’s been a very difficult situation,” Trump said. “And I think I’m doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it. As you know, it’s been a very complicated issue for the military.”

It should be noted that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who were not notified of the transgender ban in advance, said the military will make “no modifications” to the current transgender policy until official White House guidances are handed down.

Two pro-LGBT groups are suing the president on behalf of five transgender military personnel in response to the ban, arguing the policy would infringe on their constitutionally-protected right to equal protection under the law.

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