Transgender Troops Set to Testify Before Congress on Military Ban

Army Capt. Jennifer PeacePhoto: Drew Perine / AP

Mila Madison

On Tuesday, the House Armed Services Committee announced they will hold a hearing on “Transgender Service Policy’ beginning February 27th according to a new report by the Washington Blade. Now under a Democratic majority, the committee is headed by recently chaired Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)

Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann will be testifying on behalf of the armed forces.

Recently, both Peace and Dremann were two of the transgender services members who were invited to attend the State of the Union address.

Testifying on behalf of the Trump administration is James Stewart, who’s performing the duties of undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency. It is expected that the subcommittee will be asking them tough questions with regards to why the Pentagon wants to ban transgender people from serving and why they believe there is a medical need to do so when the American Medical Association already says there is none.

Also set to testify is Jesse Ehrenfeld, who is considered one of the country’s foremost experts on both transgender health care and military service. Ehrenfeld is a practicing physician and currently serves as the director of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Program for LGBTI Health and as the secretary of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. Ehrenfeld is also a commander in the Navy Reserve and serves as a medical reserve officer. During the Obama administration in 2015, he was an instrumental resource in the process of lifting the original ban on transgender troops.

President Trump originally tried to impose the ban via Twitter back in July 2017, however multiple injunctions were issued by federal courts preventing the policy from ever being implemented. In January, almost all the injunctions were lifted by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. Currently, one injunction issued by a federal court in Maryland remains standing, but the order isn’t expected to last long as the Justice Department is looking to have it struck down following the Supreme Court’s decision.