Gaetz Angers Air Force General Over Gender Identity Labels: ‘I’m Not Really Sure’

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., outmaneuvered the head of the Air Force Academy Wednesday during a tense hearing about race- and gender-based admissions practices at military colleges and universities.

Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark was unable to define gender identity terms like “agender” and “demigender,” which were listed in the eligibility guidelines for a scholarship open to Air Force cadets and other Americans, Gaetz noted during their heated exchange .

“They literally push a program in the academies that says, ‘If you’re a cisgender woman, a transgender woman, a non-binary, agender, bigender, two-spirit, demigender… what is demigender?'” asked Gaetz.

“Sir, that’s a designation for the people who are eligible for whatever scholarship is available to them,” Clarke said.

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Rep. Matt Gaetz, Air Force Academy Superintendent

Rep. Matt Gaetz (right) criticized the head of the Air Force Academy at a heated Armed Forces Subcommittee hearing (Getty Images)

“It’s a person who views their gender differently than I do, sir,” Clarke said when the congressman stopped to question him further.

“Yeah sure. It’s all these people. You’re a cisgender man and you’re not even allowed to apply. Do you know what demigender really means?” asked Gaetz.

“I’m not really sure, sir,” Clark said. Gaetz then asked if he knew what “agender” meant, and the general again replied that he didn’t.

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Brooke Owens Scholarship

A screenshot of the Brooke Owens Scholarship website shows some of the eligibility requirements

“Right. So here we are, pushing a community that advocates for people you don’t even know what the words mean,” Gaetz said. “And group #1, cisgender men, are excluded. In the name of diversity, equity and inclusion, should we push programs that we can’t define that exclude the largest group of military personnel?”

The Brooke Owens Scholarship Gaetz was referring to is “open to women and aerospace students who belong to a gender minority” according to his website.

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As for the eligibility requirements, the website states: “If you are a cisgender woman, a transgender woman, non-binary, agender, bigender, two-spirit, demigender, genderfluid, genderqueer, or any other form of gender minority, this program is for you.”

Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana

Rep. Jim Banks chairs the Armed Forces Subcommittee holding Wednesday’s hearing (campaign by Rep. Jim Banks)

When pressed, Clark clarified that this was not an Air Force Academy program, but rather one that students could apply to “because it’s an opportunity for us to develop them into war fighters.”


“I mean, how can you use that to advance fighter jets if you don’t know what it means?” asked Gaetz.

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