GOP Congressman says trans people in the military could launch ICBM missiles on everyone

Rep. Matt Rosendale
Rep. Matt Rosendale Photo: Screenshot/CSPAN

Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would ban gender-affirming health care for transgender members of the military and their families.

And he defended his amendment to the NDAA to deny health care to some members of the military by saying that trans and nonbinary service members could launch ICBM missiles because they don’t know if “they are a man or a woman.”

“It is weakening our military, it is not making it stronger,” Rosendale said on the House floor.

“We have drag shows taking place at Malmstrom Air Force Base,” he continued, referring to a base in Montana. “There are 150 ICBM missiles that are being controlled by that Air Force base and by these individuals.”

“I do not want someone who doesn’t know if they are a man or a woman with their hand on a missile button.”

Rosendale offered several amendments to the NDAA – the annual defense policy bill that funds the military – including one that he says “would prohibit TRICARE from covering and the Department of Defense from furnishing sex reassignment surgeries and gender hormone treatments for transgender individuals.” TRICARE is the health care program for active duty service members, the National Guard, and the family members of active duty service members.

That LGBTQ+ people are allowed to serve in the military at all is a major point of contention for some on the right. Florida Republicans voted on a bill earlier this year that would have the state send a sternly-worded letter to federal officials, telling them to end “woke social engineering and experimentation practices” in the military. The bill cited the military’s opposition to racism in the workplace and the facts that “openly gay and bisexual men and women have been allowed to serve in the military” and “the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military was lifted” as examples of “woke” military policies.

Donald Trump banned transgender people from serving openly in the military in 2017, a ban that was lifted by the Biden administration shortly after President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Rosendale’s amendment was narrowly passed and became part of the NDAA earlier this week.

The NDAA is scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives today, and Rosendale’s amendment on health care is one of two amendments that could impede the passage of the bill (the other bans the Department of Defense from paying for abortions for servicemembers). Democratic lawmakers say health care for members of the military and their families is nonnegotiable, with House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) accusing House Republicans of “hijack[ing] the historically bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act to continue attacking reproductive freedom and jamming their right-wing ideology down the throats of the American people.”

Despite the stereotype that trans and nonbinary people don’t know what gender they are, they usually have put more thought into their gender identities than cisgender people have and have explored that aspect of themselves to a greater degree. Many transgender people know they are men or women with as much or even more certainty than many cisgender people, and nonbinary people don’t have the problem of knowing “if” they’re men or women because they can be just as certain that they are neither.

Moreover, all people face various kinds of uncertainties in their lives that no one will argue lead to violent behavior or accidentally launching missiles at anyone. Despite stereotypes to the contrary, transgender and nonbinary people remain more likely to be the victims of violence than cisgender people.

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