Transgender Air Force Academy grad denied lieutenant status, commission amid Pentagon review

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Upon graduation, one Colorado Air Force Academy cadet expected to be awarded lieutenant bars, but instead was told to consider civil service. 

The cadet, who will remain nameless to protect their identity, is currently held back from becoming a commissioned officer due to a Department of Defense policy that is currently under review.

The policy allows for transgender individuals currently serving in the Air Force to continue service, but not new admissions to active duty.

"Per the current DoD transgender policy, the cadet cannot commission into the Air Force," an Air Force Academy official told Denver7. "However, we are strongly recommending this individual for Air Force civil service as an option for continued service after the Academy." 

The Air Force Academy official explained they value the more than 140,000 Air Force civilian employees who serve alongside uniformed Air Force members. Still, a civilian position within the Air Force is not what this graduate went to the Academy to accomplish. 

Attending the Air Force Academy comes with the requirement of serving for eight years after graduation, however officials aren't yet sure if civil service will fulfill those requirements. 

Currently, there are few guidelines, but training is underway to help Air Force officials learn how to tackle the issue moving forward. The Department of Defense is also reviewing its current policy, and is taking input from universities like the Air Force Academy. 

"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 Air Force Academy source wrote. "The Academy is currently conducting the USAF directed training on the current policy and stands ready to execute higher headquarters instructions." 

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