Iowa Rep. Steve King, a Republican, on Friday delivered a speech on the House floor in which he compared transgender troops to castrated slaves.

King, a vocal opponent of LGBT rights, made his remarks on the day the Republican-controlled House narrowly defeated an amendment which sought to prohibit the military from offering transition-related health care to transgender troops.

(Related: House rejects Vicky Hartzler amendment that sought to block health care for transgender troops.)

Allowing transgender troops to serve openly, King said, is “an indication of a civilization killer.”

King compared the current debate to castrated slaves in the 16th century Ottoman Empire.

“I think of the circumstances in a little bit older history, back in the 16th century and the 17th century when the Ottoman Empire and the Muslim armies were sweeping across the countryside, and whoever they captured, they pressed into slavery.” King said. “And when they pressed them into slavery, they wanted to have their crack troops – they were called Janissaries, and there were other troops too, as well. But what they did in order to keep them from reproducing was that they did reassignment surgery on those slaves that they captured, that they had put into their Janissary troops, and that reassignment surgery was they took them from being a virile, reproductive male into being a eunuch.”

King explained that eventually the Ottoman Empire ended the policy.

“That is a lesson of the [Ottoman military],” King said.

He also suggested that transgender troops enter the military solely for the transition health care.

“This policy clearly enacted, clearly advertised, is a neon sign for people who want to have sexual reassignment surgery,” King said. “They will line up at their recruiter’s office and they will go into the military, and the military will be saying: 'You know, we had to turn this person away because they were too heavy, and this one had flat feet, and this one had a bad eye, and this one had a congenital defect of one kind or another, but if they don’t have those and they want sexual reassignment surgery, we will cut them up and remake them into something different.'”

One Iowa condemned King's remarks, calling them “absolutely unacceptable.”

“Not only does he compare transgender troops to castrated slaves, but he insinuates that transgender people going into the service only do so to get free surgery,” Hoffman-Zinnel said. “People join the military for a multitude of reasons, and the same goes for transgender individuals. To group all transgender people together and claim they all intend to somehow game the system is not only false, but contributes to harmful and untrue stereotypes transgender people face that contribute to harassment and violence.”