WASHINGTON, Iowa — Jeb Bush wasn't totally opposed to the idea of transgender people openly serving in the military when asked about it during a campaign stop in Iowa on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after a backyard gathering in the small town of Washington where he took questions from audience members, Bush said that without knowing the specifics, he didn't see a problem with transgender people in the armed forces, though it would depend on the role.
"I’m sure there’s a role for everybody to play in the armed forces," Bush said in response to a question from BuzzFeed News. "I think it would depend on the role, the specific role, whether it’s appropriate or not."
"The first priority for the military is to create an environment where the morale’s high, where people are trained, and we have the best fighting force. And if you can accommodate that in that kind of environment, I don’t think there’s a problem for it. But I don’t know anything — I have no knowledge of the specifics of that," he said, referring to a story by BuzzFeed News' Chris Geidner about the first out transgender military officer who is active duty in the Army, Jamie Lee Henry.
Henry, a major in the Army's Medical Corps, was recently granted permission by the Army to officially change her name and gender. The policy has been that out trans people cannot serve, but there have been signs that the policy is changing, Henry's case being foremost among them. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the policy against out gay people serving in the military, was repealed after 17 years in 2010.
Bush took several other questions from reporters, and even stayed longer after his press aide tried to end his media availability. He took five or six questions during the event itself, ranging from religious freedom to immigration reform. After months of quasi-campaigning, Bush announced his candidacy in Miami on Monday and is in the midst of his announcement tour through the early primary states.