During a volatile period following President Trump’s transgender military ban, one recent West Point graduate has achieved a victory within the armed services community. Riley Dosh had her name updated by the West Point Association of Graduates from her birth name to the name that reflected her gender identity.
“For any of my classmates or any other West Point graduate, if they want to search my academic records or anything about me, I want them to be able to see the name that reflects who I am – and not any other name,” Dosh told INTO in an exclusive interview.
In May, Dosh was allowed to graduate as Riley, and while her diploma displayed her chosen name, it did not use the correct pronoun. “I didn’t open my diploma for days, and when I did, it was kind of disheartening to see that,” Dosh said.
Dosh has articulated that the West Point Association of Graduates is separate from the West Point institution in its entirety. She says that updating all of her documents will be a challenge since West Point has a different kind of bureaucracy. Theresa Brinkerhoff, West Point’s public relations specialist, told INTO that the academic records of Dosh still show her birth name and gender.
“No change was made to the official cadet record,” Brinkerhoff said. “Ms. Dosh can still make this request online through the Army Board of Corrections for Military Records with a completed Department of Defense form 1-49.”
While Dosh believes that West Point’s administration will be receptive to her name change, she also believes that it will be a difficult question. An executive memo signed recently by President Trump will effectively ban transgender troops from serving in the military after March 2018. Dosh expressed that she wasn’t surprised as she herself was not invited to join any armed services branch upon her graduation.
There are several activists fighting this ban. Defense Secretary General James Mattis announced that the Pentagon is pending a thorough investigation of the issue. One main argument for the prohibition of trans troops is that their medical costs would be tremendous. Based on a 2014 survey from the Palm Center, there is “no compelling medical rationale for banning transgender military service.” Also, a 2016 survey done by the RAND Corporation, on request for the Pentagon, found that trans troops had no “significant effect on cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”
This trans military ban might skew the public opinion, but trans troops will still diligently serve in silence. In another INTO interview, the state policy counsel at the National Center for Transgender, Arli Christian, said that the military needs to affirm trans identities so that they are not subject to “discrimination, harassment, or undue scrutiny.” However, Dosh’s small victory is a glimmer of hope for some 16,000 active trans members who face a potential dishonorable discharge in March.
Article by Christopher Alan McDaniel.