Fresh off a committee hearing where she introduced (and withdrew) an amendment banning transgender people from serving in the military, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) called in to the anti-LGBTQ hate group the Family Research Council Thursday to discuss her concerns. Trans servicemembers, she warned, are a “threat” to the country — a threat rivaling our biggest international foes.
Responding to host Tony Perkins’ softball question about “social experimentation” in the military, Hartzler explained, “At a time when we should be focusing on the threats from North Korea, and Putin, and ISIS, we’re having to deal with a threat here at home — a domestic threat — of allowing transgenders [sic] in our service, which is a real problem because it impacts their readiness, and it’s a huge cost for our military.”
Over the course of the interview, Hartzler reiterated the same concerns she expressed Wednesday night in the House Armed Services Committee, including her completely bogus claim that transgender-related surgeries will cost the military $1.35 billion over the next 10 years. That figure is 16 times more than the highest estimates provided by the RAND Corporation, and Hartzler’s office has still not responded to a ThinkProgress inquiry as to where she came up with that number.
Hartzler also specified for the first time that if the military doesn’t block the new policy from being implemented, she will reintroduce her amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act on the House floor. It was supposed to take effect July 1, and though it may be delayed six months, there is no indication from anyone in the Armed Services that it won’t eventually be implemented. This means that she will condition funding for the entire military on banning transgender people from service — the first time such a ban will have ever been stipulated in a law.
Before the interview was over, Hartzler once again insisted that Congress must “remove this threat from the national defense.” In 2014, the Williams Institute estimated that there are currently at least 10,000 transgender people already serving in the military.
Faiz Shakir of the American Civil Liberties Union condemned the remarks. “No member of Congress should refer to military service members as a ‘threat’ simply because of who they are,” he said. “Hartzler’s comments are further proof that this ban is rooted in bigotry and needs to go.”