Texas Representative Louie Gohmert rose to the House floor on Friday to deliver a transphobic speech warning Americans that transgender members of the U.S. military are an “advertising bonanza” for “radical Islamists,” and that being transgender is a “type of lifestyle.”
Gohmert, who has a long history of making offensive transphobic and homophobic 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 measure was narrowly voted down 214-209.
“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.
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.