Future military enrollment for the Army ROTC program at UTA, or Maverick Battalion, may be affected by the military transgender ban allowed to go into effect this week by the Supreme Court.
President Donald Trump previously requested the Supreme Court hear cases challenging the ban. The Supreme Court did not allow that. The lower court cases are being resolved in various courts of appeals.
The Tuesday order reversed the rule created under former President Barack Obama’s administration that allowed transgender people to enlist and waived the injunctions that were preventing the ban to go into effect.
Major Joel Brown, senior assistant professor of military science, said the Maverick Battalion consists of approximately 230 students.
The policy affects those who may be interested in joining, Brown said.
Students taking military classes do not have to sign a military contract until they reach the third year. The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, is divided into military science one through four.
“However, once you go into your military science level three, then you’re actually signing a contract with the Army, and so then you have to meet all the criteria,” he said. “And that’s where we lose a lot of our cadets anyways because they don’t meet all the criteria, whether that’s their physical fitness, their weight standards, their physical standards, meaning their medical standards.”
According to the memorandum of the Secretary of Defense on Feb. 22, 2018, “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria are disqualified from military service.”
There are some limited exceptions including: members who have been stable for three years in their biological sex before joining the military; members diagnosed with gender dysphoria may be retained if they do not require a change of gender and are still deployable; members diagnosed with gender dysphoria who have been in the military before the effective date of the policy can continue serving in their preferred gender. Transgender persons without a history of gender dysphoria diagnosis, who are otherwise qualified for service, may serve in their biological sex.
Architecture graduate student Joshua Abaya said transgender people that are already in the military should be able to stay because they have proven themselves not to be a risk.
Abaya said that the standard they are putting in the military outlines whether someone is in the right mindset to serve. People with gender dysphoria may have some limitations, such as stress or anxiety, to carry out certain objectives, Abaya said.
“Overall I agree with the policy prescription that Trump is trying to implement,” Abaya said.
Jessica Sanchez, Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and LGBTQA Program assistant director, said the Trump administration is attacking the identity of transgender people and also essentially trying to wipe away everything that Obama had done when it came to human rights and treating people equal.
Sanchez said the Trump administration is trying to have the strongest military, but neglecting access to transgender people is contradictory because strength has nothing to do with someone’s gender identity.
“We are here to make sure that [they] feel included and supported in this environment,” Sanchez said. “We can’t control everything, but we can control what’s happening here at UT Arlington.”
Sanchez feels that society is taking another 20 steps back in terms of rights.
Abaya said this policy will obviously affect those who are transgender and aspire to serve in the military, but when it comes to the general population or the general makeup of the campus, the effect will be minimal.
There is a certain standard put forth by the military, and when it comes to the psychology of this, the way someone feels is not reality, Abaya said.
“The standard that the military puts out there has nothing to do with the way that people identify themselves,” he said. “The reality of the situation is that there is a standard that most people in the military have been able to adhere to, and if you’re not able to adhere to that, that’s not attacking anyone, that’s just setting a normal standard.”
Sanchez said she wants to be a support piece for the transgender community and also an advocate for their rights.
“They are completely utilizing the transition that someone possibly would want to go through as a crutch, right, as their way to justify their reasoning for banning trans folks in the military,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said that it is daunting the way transgender people are being treated and represented in the United States.
Abaya said the courts will have a better and deeper understanding of the rulings once they reach the Supreme Court and that the order will prevail.
There are agreements universities have to sign stating that if the university wants an ROTC program associated with the school, they have to agree with the Army policy, Brown said. The Army is in charge of executing policies the federal leaders implement.
Brown said the military is always caught in the middle between policy changes.
Cases in the lower court in relation to the ban are still being resolved to make their way up to the Supreme Court.