A student attending the University of Texas at Austin on a three-year Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship may have to withdraw and transfer to a community college after being disqualified from military service — because he is a transgender man.
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As Austin’s KVUE reports, UT freshman Map Pesqueira will lose out on the scholarship because of the newly instituted ban on transgender people, and those with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, from serving in the U.S. military. Without those funds, Pesqueira cannot afford to pay full tuition, and is now resorting to GoFundMe to help support his studies. So far, more than $7,000 of its $20,000 goal has been raised.
“Because I have started medically transitioning, my scholarship is now void,” the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet explained on GoFundMe.
Pesqueira received the scholarship, which would go into effect at the start of his sophomore year at UT, as a senior in high school. He started transitioning in 2018, and has been on hormone replacement therapy for the last 15 months; recently, he legally changed his name and gender identification, and underwent top surgery. But in January 2019 the Supreme Court determined that the Department of Defense’s proposed transgender ban could take place, putting his scholarship at risk.
"It was just a happy medium that I was able to go to school and also pursue a military career," Pesqueira, who is double-majoring in American Studies and Film/Radio/TV, told KVUE. "I knew that I wouldn't have to bury my identity to serve my country."
He is unable to be “grandfathered” in to save the scholarship, and efforts by his professor of military science to help were unsuccessful.
He is now counting on donations to keep alive his dream of continuing his studies at UT for at least one more year.
“Since my scholarship is now invalid, I can no longer afford to attend without financial assistance,” he wrote on GoFundMe. “I received little financial aid from the university despite having a single mother with a low income and struggled to pay my own way through my first year. Until now, I remained under the impression that my scholarship would take care of my remaining three years, but that is no longer the case.
“I am requesting assistance to help fund my second year through this GoFundMe for my steep tuition and room and board. Without help, I will have to return back home to San Antonio, Texas, where there is no guarantee of the future of my education.”
UT Austin issued a statement to KVUE outlining other options for the cadet, but declined to comment directly on his lost scholarship.
"We want all of our students to be successful at UT Austin and we are committed to helping them make this a reality,” it reads. “Due to federal privacy law, the university does not comment on the cases of individual students. Because every student situation is unique, we offer many different avenues of assistance for students who undergo sudden changes that might affect their access to a UT education. These resources include our Student Emergency Services office and the Graduation Help Desk, which both work closely with the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. Our staff are experienced in these situations and stand ready to help students navigate the resources they need to complete their education."
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