Texas student says he lost military scholarship due to Trump's new transgender policy

Texas student says he lost military scholarship due to Trump's new transgender policy
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A first-year student at the University Texas at Austin says he lost his military scholarship because of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE's new transgender military ban.

Map Pesqueira, a 19-year-old transgender man, told The Dallas Morning News on Monday that his three-year Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship, which was supposed to kick in next school year, had been made invalid.

"I was told that my scholarship is void," he told the outlet. He added that it was important to tell "the story of ROTC cadets who are relying on a ROTC scholarship to fund their education."


The Trump administration's rule barring most transgender people from serving in the military unless they serve under their biological sex took effect earlier this month.

Pesqueira's case has garnered attention from lawmakers and LGBTQ rights groups.

Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroJulián Castro endorses Rep. Cuellar's primary opponent in Texas Harris, Castro introduce resolution condemning Trump aide Stephen Miller As Mexico abuses migrants under Trump's orders, where is Congress? MORE (D-Texas) criticized the scholarship loss on Tuesday.

"I call on @UTAustin and all universities to make up lost scholarship money for all transgender students affected by President Trump's transgender military ban. It's not the students' fault they're losing these scholarships," Castro tweeted.

A spokesperson for the Department of Defense (DOD) declined comment on the particular case because they "don't know the details" of Pesqueira's scholarship. But the spokeswoman, Jessica Maxwell, added: "No person, solely on the basis of gender identity, will be denied continuation of service."

"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 confusion may be caused from how the new transgender troops enlistment policy affects scholarships for students who are not yet active duty soldiers. 

In 2016, former President Obama first allowed transgender troops to openly serve as the sex with which they identify. Those diagnosed before April 12 with gender dysphoria, where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity, are grandfathered in under Obama's policy.

That would mean that Pesqueira would not be affected by the new ban.

When asked why the DOD was contradicting his account, Pesqueira said he did not know.

"I'm not sure why they're telling you something different because I was told that my scholarship is void," he told the Morning News"Maybe they caught wind of my story and it started getting very big and they're reconsidering" their stance.

Pesqueira has started a GoFundMe page to cover the costs of college he won't be able to afford without the scholarship. The page had raised more than $10,000 as of Wednesday evening.

A spokesperson for the university told The Hill they were unable to speak about individual students, but have a policy of helping those in need.

"We want all of our students to be successful and are committed to helping them make this a reality," UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird said. "Because every situation is unique, we offer different avenues of help for students who face sudden changes that affect their access to a UT education. Our staff pro-actively engage with affected students to help them find the resources they need to get their degree."

Updated: 5:50 p.m.