In a House floor rant on Friday, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) railed against gender transition-related health care for transgender troops by comparing the procedure to the Ottoman Empire’s practice of castrating slaves.
King, who has a long history of offensive comments, delivered his floor speech after the House rejected a measure intended to reverse an Obama-era requirement that the Defense Department pay for service members’ hormone therapies and gender reassignment surgeries. The amendment proposed by Republican Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler was narrowly voted down 214-209.
“What they did in order to keep them from reproducing was that they did reassignment surgery on those slaves they had captured, that they had put into their janissary troops,” King said. “And that reassignment surgery was they took them from being a virile, reproductive male into being a eunuch.”
King claimed that transgender individuals would enlist in the Army just to have gender reassignment surgery.
“This policy, clearly enacted, clearly advertised, is a neon sign for people that want to have sexual reassignment surgery,” King said.
“They will line up at the recruiter’s office, and they’ll go into the office…and the military will be saying ‘We had to turn this person away because they were too heavy. And this one had flat feet. And this one had a bad eye. And this one had a congenital defect of one kind or another.’ But if they don’t have those, and they want sexual reassignment surgery, we’ll cut ’em up and remake ’em into something different to the tune of $3.5 or nine billion dollars over a 10 year period of time, and put ’em off in the recovery room for two years before we can put them to work and use ’em.”
“Can you imagine someone…taking up a bed in Walter Reed hospital, maybe a roommate with someone who was hit by an IED. Someone who lost a couple of legs, amputated, in the dangerous, dangerous service of the freedoms of our country. Can you imagine those two beds side by side? One of ’em missing a couple of legs, or an arm, or an arm and a leg, or two arms. And the other one saying, ‘Well, I just came in for sexual reassignment surgery.’ I won’t say the next things in my mind.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) also railed against allowing transgender people in the military, arguing that transgender members of the U.S. military are an “advertising bonanza” for “radical Islamists,” and that being transgender is a “type of lifestyle.”
“When it’s advertised that the United States Congress is in favor of taking men and surgically making them into women with the money that they would use to protect the nation otherwise…then it is an advertising bonanza for the radical Islamists,” Gohmert said.
“Because my Muslim friends tell me, the recruits, you’re right, if that’s how stupid they are, this society has no right to remain on the earth. We need to take them out. They are too stupid.”
ThinkProgress’ Annabel Thompson noted that Gohmert had referred to these unnamed “Muslim friends” earlier in his speech: “friendly Muslims — Muslim friends, yes, I do have them from around the world.”
“We will take that money that could save another member’s life, and we’ll spend that on this expensive surgery to change your organs, maybe cut ’em off or add some,” Gohmert said, referring to gender reassignment.
“Congresswoman Hartzler’s attempt to strip healthcare from service members and their families in a time of war was unpatriotic, unc onstitutional, and just plain vile, we are pleased to see that the House of Representatives voted down this amendment,” OutServe-SLDN executive director Matt Thorn said in a statement. “It would have been harmful to trans servicemembers, spouses, and families with trans children; it would have undermined our mission readiness by degrading our capabilities as a fighting force. OutServe-SLDN will continue to support and defend our trans brothers and sisters in any and all legal and advocacy matters.”
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted the ban on transgender people serving in the military last year and troops have been able to access “medically necessary” treatment since October of last year, reports Time.
In late June, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis delayed the enlistment of new transgender troops, originally planned to begin on July 1 of this year, giving the branches a further six months to assess whether that change will affect the “readiness or lethality” of the force. Transgender troops already serving in the military were not affected by the decision.
The Williams Institute estimates that there are roughly 8,800 thousand active duty military members who are transgender.
Other research has suggested the number could be as low as 1,500. However, it should be noted that not all transgender people need or want surgical treatment.