US military chiefs push back against Trump transgender directive

Donald Trump made the announcement on Wednesday

US military chiefs push back against Trump transgender directive

US President Donald Trump pauses during lunch with services members at the White House 18-07-2017. Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Top military commanders in the US appear to be pushing back against US President Donald Trump's plans to ban transgender people from the armed forces.

The country's top commander, General Joe Dunford, has sent a memo to US military leaders saying all personnel will continue to be treated with respect.

He says that policy will not change unless he receives directions from the president.

General Joseph F Dunford Jr, US Marine Corps, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gives testimony before the US Senate Committee on Armed Services | Image: Sachs Ron/CNP/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

Meanwhile Admiral Kenneth Whitesell - who commands one of the largest aircraft carriers in the world - says his sailors will only be judged on their ability to complete the mission.

The president is facing cross-party criticism after reversing the policy introduced by Barack Obama.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump said he had made the decision "after consultation with my generals and military experts".

He said transgender people will not be able to serve the US military "in any capacity".

He said: "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".

It was announced last year that the Pentagon would provide sex-change operations to some active-duty transgender service members if a military doctor determined that surgery is required to treat the individual's gender dysphoria.

The treatment could include behavioural health care, hormone therapy, and in some cases gender reassignment surgery.

Service members must be diagnosed as stable in their preferred gender for 18 months before they can receive treatment.

Pentagon spokesman Major Ben Sakrisson said in September 2016: "The Secretary of Defence has made clear that service members with a diagnosis from a military medical provider indicating that gender transition is medically necessary will be provided medical care and treatment for the diagnosed medical condition".

Additional reporting: Jack Quann