A Texas college student may no longer be able to continue pursuing his dreams of becoming a filmmaker and joining the army after the Department of Defense reportedly revoked his three-year military scholarship after the Trump administration’s transgender military ban went into effect.
As the Daily Texan, the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin, reported on Tuesday, Map Pesqueira, a freshman student in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program who is also transgender, lost his national ROTC scholarship after the policy took effect.
“Since I’ve already had top surgery, hormone replacement therapy, gender marker and [a] name change, I can’t go in under this policy,” Pesqueira told the paper. “I really do see [Trump’s policy] as a waste of resources, money, time, and personnel. It’s made figuring out my future education so much harder.”
Only openly trans people who were already serving before the ban, or people who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the ban, may continue to openly serve as trans now. Depending on their medical history, new transgender applicants are now either “presumptively disqualified” or must serve in accordance with the sex they were assigned at birth, according to the department’s guidelines.
Pesqueira told the Texan that Lt. Col. Matthew O’Neill, UT’s army ROTC department chair, tried to save his scholarship by getting him grandfathered in under the DOD’s 2016 policy allowing transgender members to serve in line with their gender identity, but he was unsuccessful.
“Unfortunately, this policy is so new, waivers [and] exceptions haven’t been determined,” Pesqueira also told the paper. “[O’Neill] wasn’t able to salvage it, but the fact that he tried—it’s more than I can ask for.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Defense emphasized in a statement to Splinter that “no person” will be “denied continuation” of their service “solely on the basis of gender identity.” With respect to ROTC, she said:
Individuals are exempt from the new 2018 policy (and fall under the 2016 policy) if they were selected for entrance into an officer commissioning program, and either were selected into ROTC in their preferred gender or received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria while a Service member.
The spokeswoman also declined to comment on Pesqueira’s case. The university told the student paper it couldn’t comment on the case because of privacy concerns.
Though his future in the military, as well as at the university, is now uncertain, Pesqueira still wants to become a lieutenant after he graduates—if the ban is reversed—and hopes to attend graduate school. For now, he’s raising funds to cover his tuition on GoFundMe.
“My life has definitely taken a negative turn because of this,” Pesqueira told the publication. “I’m trying to put it back on a clear track, but that may or may not happen. As much as it is a headline, [...] almost every aspect of [people’s] lives can be affected by this.