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University of Texas freshman says he lost his ROTC scholarship because of Trump's transgender military ban

Ban on transgender troops goes into effect

A freshman enrolled at the University of Texas says he lost is scholarship because he is transgender. Map Pesqueira is enrolled in the college's Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (AROTC) program, and he received a 3-year scholarship through that program that goes into effect his sophomore year. But because Pesqueira is transgender, he has been barred from using his scholarship because of a policy by the Department of Defense, he wrote on GoFundMe. 

The student said he is now struggling to find a way to afford school and doesn't know if he will be able to come back for his sophomore year. He created the GoFundMe to raise money for tuition, and he currently has more than half of his $20,000 goal.

Students must meet a number of requirements to receive a ROTC scholarship from the University of Texas. In addition to being a high school graduate pursuing an Army-approved college major, ROTC scholarship recipients must "agree to accept a commission as either a Regular Army, Army National Guard or US Army Reserve officer," according to the school.

Because the scholarship requires students to enter the Army after graduating, and the Trump administration's recent transgender ban technically prevents Pesqueria from doing that, he blames the ban for his scholarship loss.

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A freshman at the University of Texas Austin says he lost his ROTC scholarship because he is transgender. He blamed the recent transgender military ban.  Map Pesqueira/GoFundMe

"Since I was a kid, one of my biggest dreams was to pursue a career in the Army to serve my country," Pesqueira wrote. "I was always captivated by the uniforms the servicepeople wore, knowing that they belonged to an elite team rooted in pride and unity that protects our country."

However, those dreams were dissolved earlier this year, when the controversial ban, introduced by President Trump in 2017, went into effect. The regulation keeps transgender troops from serving in the nation's military openly and also "blocks all use of DoD or DHS resources to fund sex reassignment surgical procedures." 

Pesqueira started medically transitioning in 2018 and is currently on hormone replacement therapy. He has also legally changed his name and gender marker after receiving top surgery. "Because I have started medically transitioning, my scholarship is now void," he wrote. 

The student says he chose UT Austin because of the scholarship program and because it is one of the top 10 film schools in the country. He is currently a Radio, TV and Film major and is very active on campus, 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," he wrote. "Until now, I remained under the impression that my scholarship would take care of my remaining 3 years, but that is no longer the case."

Pesqueria's GoFundMe is meant to raise money for the next year of school. "Without help, I will have to return back home to San Antonio, TX where there is no guarantee of the future of my education," he wrote. 

CBS News reached out to the head of the Army ROTC Department at University of Texas, as well as to Lieutenant Colonel  Matthew S. O'Neill, who works in the ROTC Department at the school's Austin campus, where Pesqueria is enrolled. According to The Daily Texan, O'Neill tried to save Pesqueira's scholarship by getting him "grandfathered" in under the Pentagon's 2016 policy.

The Obama administration lifted restrictions on transgender service members in 2016, which allowed them to serve openly and covered gender affirmation surgery.

"Unfortunately, this [Trump administration] policy is so new, waivers (and) exceptions haven't been determined," Pesqueira told the Daily Texan. He said O'Neill, who is his military science professor, wasn't able to salvage the scholarship, "but the fact that he tried — it's more than I can ask for."

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