by Pam Zubeck
WASHINGTON — Not long after the Pentagon lifted its ban on transgender troops last year, a West Point cadet named Riley Dosh came out as a transgender woman. She figured she would transition while serving in the Army, as other transgender soldiers have done.So we checked in with the Academy to find out its stance on the issue. Turns out, as Lt. Col. Timothy Herritage explains via email, the Academy is "strongly recommending" the cadet pursue Air Force civil service as an option.
“As cadets we’re told not to hide,” Ms. Dosh said. “So I felt it would be dishonest to continue hiding.”
But coming out of hiding has carried a price. Ms. Dosh, 22, is one of two transgender cadets — the other is at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs — caught in a kind of military limbo. After four years of training to become officers, they are being denied their commissions because of a loophole in Pentagon policy that its chief author says he did not foresee.
At issue are rules governing “accessions” — the military’s term for accepting new recruits or officer candidates.
On June 30, 2016, Department of Defense policy changed to allow currently serving Airmen who have identified as transgender individuals to serve; this only covers Airmen currently in service, and not new accessions. Currently, there is an Air Force Academy cadet who has identified as a transgender individual. The cadet has graduated. But, per the current DoD transgender policy, the cadet cannot commission into the Air Force. However, we are strongly recommending this individual for Air Force civil service as an option for continued service after the Academy. The more than 140,000 Air Force civilians who serve along aside our uniformed Airmen everyday are essential to our mission to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace.
The DoD transgender accessions policy is currently under review and the Air Force Academy is actively involved in providing input. A significant contributing factor to this effort has been the Academy's multidisciplinary Transgender Working Group, which has been working with Headquarters Air Force to assist in policy determination specific to the Air Force Academy. The Academy is currently conducting the USAF directed training on the current policy and stands ready to execute higher headquarters instructions.