Republican Rep. Steve King (IA) on Friday said that for the military to cover gender reassignment surgery in its healthcare package for enlisted personnel is like when the Ottoman Empire would castrate captured soldiers, according to The Hill.
“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 in protest of the House of Representatives’ decision not to reverse an Obama-era policy allowing military personnel to transition and have that care provided under their government health insurance like other federal employees.
King continued, “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,” he went on.
The Iowa congressman was arguing alongside far-right fellow traveler Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX). Both men have long histories of bigoted and ill-informed comments on topics ranging from immigration law to women’s rights.
Gohmert recently voted against a grant program for girls in the sciences, saying that civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would never “leave little boys in the ditch.”
King is famous for a number of nativist and racist comments including his description of Mexican immigrants as drug runners who “weigh 130 pounds” but have “calves the size of cantaloups” from walking through the desert with drugs on their backs.