Can a transgender student serve in the ROTC program at the University of Richmond? This was the question The Collegian strove to answer recently. 

Answer: The UR Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program should follow national policy and assess and maintain transgender recruits and cadets, Lt. Col. Carla Gleason of the Pentagon said. 

Nonetheless, there are gray areas that have caused trouble for transgender students across the country. 

On July 26, 2017, President Donald Trump tweeted to his 56 million Twitter followers that he would reverse an Obama administration decision and ban transgender men and women from joining the United States military forces.

Three federally issued injunctions have prevented this ban from taking place -- for now. 

However, transgender military hopefuls have found themselves turned away from recruitment despite the military falling short of its recruitment goals, according to a New York Times article

This issue has trickled down to colleges and universities across the nation as well. 

In 2017, a number of transgender students, such as Levi Hanson of Western Kentucky University, were barred from joining their ROTC programs and lost scholarships they had received before the Trump ban.  

Chairman of UR's department of military science and leadership Lt. Col. Cecil Stinnie told The Collegian that all questions regarding transgender recruits would need to go to the Pentagon, because he was not authorized to create policy on cadet recruitment and retention. 

After a few phone calls and email exchanges, The Collegian was put in contact with Cmdr. Michael P. Cody of the Office of the Secretary of Defense public affairs. 

“In accordance with court orders, the Department of Defense will continue accessing and retaining transgender applicants and service members,” Cody said in an email exchange. “Your question about ROTC programs will require some research to answer. Please bear with us while we do that.” 

Following this response, Gleason took over and confirmed that ROTC programs were subject to national recruitment policy. 

“ROTC units follow the same accession rules,” Gleason said in an email. “According to [Department of Defense] policies, these instructions are applicable to applicants for the Service academies, Reserve Officer Training Corps, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and all other DoD Component special officer personnel procurement programs.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was set to hear government appeals for Doe v. Trump -- which prevented the Trump transgender ban from taking full effect -- on Dec. 10. 

An article from the Military Times indicates that the Trump administration seeks to take this case to the Supreme Court -- a decision that could result in established national policy on transgender military service.  

Contact senior news writer Josh Kim at joshua.kim@richmond.edu.