Republicans Tell Trans Troops “Choose What Gender You Are Before You Join” The Military

Rep. Steve King compared transgender soldiers to eunuchs in the Ottoman Empire.

An effort to ban the U.S. military from covering transition-related health care failed in the House Armed Services committee last week, but not before GOP representatives made malicious transphobic comments on the record.

“Choose what gender you are before you join,” declared Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA).

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

“We’re not saying that transgender people can’t serve, but if you are going to take the big step of serving in the U.S. military, figure out whether you are a man or a woman before you join up. We’re saying taxpayers in this country right now are not going to foot the bill for it. This is a silly thing. It’s time to put this to bed.” (Hunter ended his statement by saying, “Let’s make America great again.”)

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) compared letting the Pentagon to pay for gender transition to the Ottoman Empire castrating slaves to serve in the infantry.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

“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,” said King. “And that reassignment surgery was they took them from being a virile, reproductive male into being a eunuch. That’s a lesson of the military—the Ottoman military—from two, three, 400 years ago.”

Starting in the late 14th century, janissaries were elite infantry units who formed the sultan’s personal shock troops. They were raised austerely, took vows of celibacy and, as children snatched from subjugated Christian nations, they would have to have been circumcised.

But there’s no real evidence they were castrated. (Sultans did hire eunuchs to oversee their harems, but they would have been castrated already.)

Nevertheless King argued that if the amendment didn’t pass, transgender people would scheme to join the military just to get free gender-confirmation surgery.

“I can just get into any branch of the United States services—to the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines; maybe become a Navy SEAL—and then submit to sexual-reassignment surgery and then go from a man to a woman.”

Given how powerful and effective the janissaries were, it sounds like King thinks we should have an all-trans military unit.

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