Navy, Marine leaders: No problem with transgender troops

The top military leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps said Thursday they have seen no discipline, morale or unit readiness problems with transgender troops now serving openly in the military.

Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that some of his commanders have said there are no problems at all. Others, he said, say they're spending "a lot of time" with transgender individuals as they work through medical requirements involving the transition from birth gender to preferred gender.

He said there are currently 27 in his force who have identified themselves as transgender. Dealing with the medical requirements, he said, can be a burden on commanders. Those issues don't include any unit cohesion or discipline problems, he said.

The Pentagon in 2016 lifted the ban on transgender troops serving openly in the military. President Donald Trump has pushed for a ban, but that directive is being challenged in numerous court cases. While the court actions proceed, the Pentagon continues to allow transgender troops to serve and is allowing them to enlist.

Neller said he met with four transgender troops and learned about their desire to serve. "Those that came forward, we have to honor the fact that they came out and they trusted us to say that, and we need to make sure that we help them get through that process," said Neller.

Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, says he's not aware of any problems with transgender service members in the Navy. He said the Navy is dealing with transgender individuals in much the same way as it handled the integration of women sailors on submarines.

"One of the pillars of that was to make sure that there were really no differences highlighted in our approach to training those sailors," said Richardson. "That program has gone very well. So, maintaining that level playing field of a standards-based approach seems to be the key to success."