Transgender Academy Cadets Can Graduate, But Not Commission

Cadets who have identified as transgender at the US Air Force Academy, Colo., and the US Military Academy, N.Y., will be allowed to graduate this spring, but cannot commission as officers, USA Today first reported last week.

“Currently, there is an Air Force Academy cadet who has identified as a transgender individual,” USAFA spokesman Lt. Col. Timothy Herritage confirmed in an email statement. “The cadet can graduate. But, per the current [Department of Defense] transgender policy, this cadet cannot commission into the Air Force.” Army Spokesperson Valerie L. Mongello also confirmed by email that “a Military Academy cadet has identified as transgender; however, per the current [DOD] medical accessions policy, this cadet cannot commission.”

DOD policy currently allows for serving military members to begin gender transition, but does not accept transgender individuals as new accessions. But Herritage said, “the DOD transgender accessions policy is currently under review,” and the Academy has formed a “multidisciplinary transgender working group,” to assist USAF headquarters in writing new policy “specific to the Air Force Academy.”

In the West Point case, the Army denied a waiver request to allow commissioning because the DOD is “expected to issue policy and processes for transgender accessions later this year.” Whether the cadets will be responsible for the cost of their education remains unclear. If they are medically disqualified, “reimbursement is not sought,” at least in the case of West Point. But if there are complicating factors, such as academic failure or misconduct, “reimbursement is decided on a case by case basis,” Mongello said.