The head of the Coast Guard expressed strong support for transgender service members despite President Donald Trump's tweets last week that transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in "any capacity."
Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said that his office contacted 13 members of the Coast Guard who self-identify as transgender in a show of solidarity in response to the ban. The comments came in a speech to a Center for Strategic and International Studies forum in Washington, D.C., The Hill reported.
"That was the commitment to our people right now," Zukunft said. "Very small numbers, but all of them are doing meaningful Coast Guard work today."
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Among the transgender Coast Guard personnel who were contacted was Lt. Taylor Miller, the Coast Guard's first openly transitioning officer. Miller was profiled in a Washington Post article.
"If you read that story, Taylor's family has disowned her," Zukunft said. "And I told Taylor, I will not turn my back. We have made an investment in you and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard and I will not break faith."
A spokesperson for the Coast Guard told NBC they will "follow the [Department of Defense] closely on human resource policies" and will be in contact about future changes in policy.
The Coast Guard falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security but would be subject to the transgender ban as a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
President Trump's three tweets announing that the military "will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity" reportedly came as a surprise to leaders at the Pentagon.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said in a memo to military leaders that the current policy regarding transgender individuals in the military will not change until the president issues an official directive.
The top Air Force officer, Gen. David Goldfein, said in another note that he and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson "emphasize that all airmen will be treated with dignity and respect as we work through the potential policy changes" of the ban.
Attorneys general in 18 states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, called for Congress to protect transgender service members from discrimination.