February 19, 2019 at 6:10 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Transgender troops, Trump officials to testify before Congress on military ban
From left, Navy veteran Tavion Dignard, Army Maj. Ian Brown, Capt. Jennifer Peace, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Megan Winters and Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland attend the State of the Union Address on Feb. 5, 2018. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Transgender troops and Trump administration officials are set to testify before Congress on February 27 about President Trump’s transgender military ban, the Washington Blade has learned.

The House Armed Services Committee announced on Tuesday as part of it weekly scheduling announcement the personnel subcommittee, newly chaired by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) under the Democratic majority, will hold a hearing on that date on “Transgender Service Policy.”

Set to testify are transgender members of the armed forces — Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, Navy Corpsman Petty Officer 3rd Class Akira Wyatt and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann. (Two of these witnesses — Peace and Dremann — were among the transgender service members lawmakers invited to the State of the Union address earlier this year.)

The Trump administration officials set to testify on Trump’s ban are James Stewart, who’s performing the duties of under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency. They’ll likely face questions from the subcommittee why on the Pentagon is seeking to ban transgender people from the armed forces and whether there is a medical need to do so. (The American Medical Association has concluded there is not.)

Also set to testify is Jesse Ehrenfeld, a combat veteran who deployed to Afghanistan and is now a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

During the Obama administration, Ehrenfeld questioned then Defense Secretary Ashton Carter during a military town hall in Kandahar after transgender military policy. The process toward implementing openly transgender military service started shortly afterward.

Trump later sought to reverse this policy change by announcing on Twitter transgender people will no longer be able to serve in the military “in any capacity.” Although courts have until recently issued orders blocking implementation of Trump’s policy, the U.S. Supreme Court issued stays on those injunctions, essentially allowing the ban to go into effect.

(Technically, one injunction against the ban issued by a federal court in Maryland remains standing, but the order isn’t expected to last long. The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to have it dissolved following the green light from the Supreme Court.)

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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