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The Latest: Transgender troops say they excel in military

Published
Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, second from right, together with other transgender military members, from left, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, testify about their military service before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban them. King was deployed three times to Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Latest on transgender troops' impact on the U.S. military since the policy was changed in 2016 under then-President Barack Obama allowing them to serve openly, (all times local):

4 p.m.

Transgender troops testifying for the first time to Congress say transitioning to another sex made them stronger, while Pentagon officials defended the Trump administration's desire to bar people like them from enlisting in the future.

Congressional Democrats said at the hearing Wednesday by members of the House Armed Services Committee that President Donald Trump's policy is based on discrimination and likened it to the Army's ban on blacks in the 1940s.

Retired Air Force Gen. James N. Stewart, who is now performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, defended Trump's policy that is held up in litigation. He says it is not a ban, but the military cannot make "special accommodations" for people with a medical condition.

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9:45 a.m.

The Pentagon has spent nearly $8 million to treat more than 1,500 transgender troops since 2016 when the Obama administration changed the policy to allow them to serve openly.

The data from the Defense Department was given to the House Armed Services Committee ahead of a hearing Wednesday in which transgender service members are scheduled to testify before members of Congress for the first time.

The Trump administration is pushing to reinstate the ban on transgender personnel, citing medical costs as a reason. The ban remains blocked by litigation.

The military's health care budget tops $50 billion.

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11:05 p.m.

Transgender troops will testify about their service for the first time before Congress as the Trump administration pushes to ban them.

Among those set to testify Wednesday before lawmakers of the House Armed Services Committee will be five active-duty transgender service members and Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld, a Navy Reserve commander who helped push to remove the military's last barrier to service under the Obama administration.

Also testifying will be Pentagon officials.

They are expected to be questioned about whether transgender troops have affected the military's warfighting abilities and whether any medical evidence supports excluding them.

Since the U.S. military welcomed transgender people in 2016, they have served without incident. Many have earned medals from a military that only recently denied them the chance to serve.

This undated photo provided by her wife Jessica Kibodeaux shows Lindsey Muller and her dog Emma hiking in the Cheyenne Mountains west of Fort Carson, Colo. Muller, a 19-year combat veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq, diligently followed the Pentagon guidelines to transition. In the nearly three years since the U.S. military welcomed transgender people into the armed forces in 2016, they have served without incident. Some, like Muller, have earned prestigious medals or received other forms of recognition. (Jessica Kibodeaux via AP)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 photo released by the her office, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, gives challenge coins to U.S. Army Maj. Ian Brown, right, and other military service members to thank them for their service, in her office at the Capitol following the State of the Union address in Washington. Brown, 38, is a two-time Bronze Star recipient who transitioned from female to male while advising the Army's deputy chief of staff in operations and planning. (Julio Obscura/Office of the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi via AP)
In this July 27, 2017 photo, Master Sgt. Erika Stoltz, poses for a photo at her home in Sun Prairie, Wis. Stoltz, 56, served four combat deployments and earned two Bronze Stars. After returning from Afghanistan, she transitioned from male to female while working full-time for the Army. (M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
In this July 27, 2017 photo, Master Sgt. Erika Stoltz, poses for a photo at her home in Sun Prairie, Wis. Stoltz, 56, served four combat deployments and earned two Bronze Stars. After returning from Afghanistan, she transitioned from male to female while working full-time for the Army. (M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
From left, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, together with other transgender military members, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, testify about their military service before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban them. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, second from left, together with other transgender military members, from left, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army SSgt. Patricia King, and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, testify about their service before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban their service. Stehlik is a graduate of West Point and served in Iraq. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
From left, transgender military members Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, prepare for the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban transgender troops. This is the first ever hearing that transgender military members openly testified in Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
From left, transgender military members Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace and Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, listen to an emotional committee member Rep. Debra Haaland, D-N.M. relate to the witnesses about her daughter who is gay during a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. This is the first ever hearing that transgender military members openly testified in Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., talks to transgender military members Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, from left, and Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, at the conclusion of a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. This is the first ever hearing that transgender military members openly testified in Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, second from left, together with other transgender military members, from left, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army SSgt. Patricia King, and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, testify about their service before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban their service. Stehlik is a graduate of West Point and served in Iraq. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, second from left, together with other transgender military members, from left, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army SSgt. Patricia King, and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, testify about their service before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban their service. Stehlik is a graduate of West Point and served in Iraq. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
In this July 27, 2017 photo, Master Sgt. Erika Stoltz, poses for a photo at her home in Sun Prairie, Wis. Stoltz, 56, served four combat deployments and earned two Bronze Stars. After returning from Afghanistan, she transitioned from male to female while working full-time for the Army. (M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
In this July 27, 2017 photo, Master Sgt. Erika Stoltz, poses for a photo at her home in Sun Prairie, Wis. Stoltz, 56, served four combat deployments and earned two Bronze Stars. After returning from Afghanistan, she transitioned from male to female while working full-time for the Army. (M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
From left, transgender military members Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace and Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, listen to an emotional committee member Rep. Debra Haaland, D-N.M. relate to the witnesses about her daughter who is gay during a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. This is the first ever hearing that transgender military members openly testified in Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
From left, transgender military members Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace and Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, listen to an emotional committee member Rep. Debra Haaland, D-N.M. relate to the witnesses about her daughter who is gay during a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. This is the first ever hearing that transgender military members openly testified in Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
From left, transgender military members Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, prepare for the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban transgender troops. This is the first ever hearing that transgender military members openly testified in Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
From left, transgender military members Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, prepare for the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban transgender troops. This is the first ever hearing that transgender military members openly testified in Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
From left, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, together with other transgender military members, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, testify about their military service before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban them. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
From left, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, together with other transgender military members, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, testify about their military service before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban them. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
In this July 27, 2017 photo, Master Sgt. Erika Stoltz, poses for a photo at her home in Sun Prairie, Wis. Stoltz, 56, served four combat deployments and earned two Bronze Stars. After returning from Afghanistan, she transitioned from male to female while working full-time for the Army. (M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
In this July 27, 2017 photo, Master Sgt. Erika Stoltz, poses for a photo at her home in Sun Prairie, Wis. Stoltz, 56, served four combat deployments and earned two Bronze Stars. After returning from Afghanistan, she transitioned from male to female while working full-time for the Army. (M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., talks to transgender military members Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, from left, and Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, at the conclusion of a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. This is the first ever hearing that transgender military members openly testified in Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., talks to transgender military members Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, from left, and Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, at the conclusion of a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. This is the first ever hearing that transgender military members openly testified in Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
This undated photo provided by her wife Jessica Kibodeaux shows Lindsey Muller and her dog Emma hiking in the Cheyenne Mountains west of Fort Carson, Colo. Muller, a 19-year combat veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq, diligently followed the Pentagon guidelines to transition. In the nearly three years since the U.S. military welcomed transgender people into the armed forces in 2016, they have served without incident. Some, like Muller, have earned prestigious medals or received other forms of recognition. (Jessica Kibodeaux via AP)
This undated photo provided by her wife Jessica Kibodeaux shows Lindsey Muller and her dog Emma hiking in the Cheyenne Mountains west of Fort Carson, Colo. Muller, a 19-year combat veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq, diligently followed the Pentagon guidelines to transition. In the nearly three years since the U.S. military welcomed transgender people into the armed forces in 2016, they have served without incident. Some, like Muller, have earned prestigious medals or received other forms of recognition. (Jessica Kibodeaux via AP)
Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, second from right, together with other transgender military members, from left, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, testify about their military service before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban them. King was deployed three times to Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, second from right, together with other transgender military members, from left, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt, testify about their military service before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, as the Trump administration pushes to ban them. King was deployed three times to Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 photo released by the her office, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, gives challenge coins to U.S. Army Maj. Ian Brown, right, and other military service members to thank them for their service, in her office at the Capitol following the State of the Union address in Washington. Brown, 38, is a two-time Bronze Star recipient who transitioned from female to male while advising the Army's deputy chief of staff in operations and planning. (Julio Obscura/Office of the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi via AP)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 photo released by the her office, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, gives challenge coins to U.S. Army Maj. Ian Brown, right, and other military service members to thank them for their service, in her office at the Capitol following the State of the Union address in Washington. Brown, 38, is a two-time Bronze Star recipient who transitioned from female to male while advising the Army's deputy chief of staff in operations and planning. (Julio Obscura/Office of the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi via AP)