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22 Jul 2023
Kristina Wong

NextImg:Air Force Academy Head Says He Supports Fellowship for 'Demigender' Cadets

Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark could not define the term “demigender” when asked this week in Congress to defend the Academy supporting a fellowship opportunity for “demigender” people.

Under questioning from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Clark confirmed that the population that makes up the fighting force are mostly men, and mostly cisgender men.

Gaetz asked him if he was familiar with the Brooke Owens Fellowship, promoted by the academy. Clark confirmed he was familiar with the fellowship.

Gaetz then asked him why, if he supported diversity in the military, the academy is promoting a fellowship that excludes cisgender persons from applying.

Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, USAF Superintendent, addresses the Cadet wings as President Joe Biden smiles during the United States Air Force Academy graduation ceremony Thursday, June 1, 2023. (John Leyba/AP)

“So you just said…it’s all about the fighting force that we draw from, but you’re literally pushing a program in the academies that says, if you’re a cisgender woman, a transgender woman, a non-binary, a-gender, bi-gender, two-spirit, demigender — what’s demigender?” Gaetz asked Clark.

Clark tried to skirt the question. “Sir, that’s a — that’s a term of the people that are eligible for that particular scholarship that it’s available in person to — it’s a person who looks at their gender in a, in a different, a different way than I do, sir,” he said.

When asked again what “demigender” meant, Clark finally responded, “I’m not really sure, sir.”

When asked if he knew what “a-gender” meant, Clark said, “Sir, I don’t.”

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Gaetz upbraided Clark, saying:

Here we are pushing a fellowship, calling for people that you don’t even know what the words mean. And the number one group of people, the cisgender men are excluded…in the name of diversity, equity and inclusion. Should we be pushing programs that we can’t define, that exclude the largest group of service members?”

Clark defended the fellowship, saying it was not an Air Force Academy program but said the academy allowed cadets to apply for it because it was an “opportunity to develop [cadets] as warfighters and we look for every opportunity that we can.”

The questioning was a continuation of Gaetz’s and other Republicans’ fight against wokeness in the military under the Biden administration.

Pentagon pamphlet for a Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender Pride Month event. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Republicans argue that the military is already diverse, and the programs are divisive in the military and a waste of resources that are better spent on combat readiness and warfighting skills, while Democrats insist that diversity is a warfighting imperative, and that the military should boost the number of women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ people in order to better reflect America’s population.

Republicans recently successfully passed a bill in the House that would roll back the Department of Defense’s efforts to further embed “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programs throughout the department and the military, including the service academies.

That bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), authorizes DOD spending and activities every year and is considered “must-pass” legislation. It has to be meshed with the Senate’s version before being voted on again and sent to the president before it becomes law. However, the bill has already garnered Democrat support and many of the anti-woke provisions are expected to remain.

RELATED — WATCH: White House: ‘Very Difficult to See’ Biden Signing NDAA that Doesn’t Fund DEI, Abortion, Gender Transitions

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