Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said he would “process and take direction” on President Donald Trump’s proposal to ban transgender people from the military, but argued that “any patriot” should be allowed to serve.
Spencer, who was sworn in as Navy secretary just last week, spoke about the president’s proposal ― which Trump announced on Twitter in July ― while visiting a naval base in Virginia on Thursday, according to Norfolk’s Daily Press.
“We will process and take direction on a policy that will be developed by the secretary [with] direction from the president — and march out smartly,” Spencer told reporters. “As I said before, on a fundamental basis, any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military.”
Any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer
Trump told reporters Thursday he felt he was “doing the military a great favor” by announcing the policy change.
He did not consult with the Pentagon before tweeting about the policy. The day after his announcement, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford told the armed forces that no changes would be implemented without further clarification from Trump.
Military leaders lifted the ban on transgender troops last year after an exhaustive review of military readiness policies. Many were quick to criticize Trump’s policy change: Fifty-six retired U.S. generals, admirals and other senior officers penned a letter to Trump to voice their opposition to the ban, and several Republican senators expressed concern about the move.
Spencer’s predecessor, former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, called the ban a “threat to America” in a July op-ed for Time.
“This latest Trump injustice is a threat to our military, a threat to our security, a threat to our standing in the world and a threat to the very idea of America,” Mabus wrote.