The second-highest ranking member of the Australian Defence force has called the public debate over the cost of gender-related healthcare for trans troops “hysterical”.

Vice Admiral Ray Griggs defended trans military personnel before a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday, SBS News has reported.

The Defence Force’s spending of $1 million on gender-related surgeries in the last five years was recently attacked by Pauline Hanson.

“These are people who are wearing the uniform of this country and serving this country,” said Griggs.

“They deserve to be treated with [the] respect that any other member of the ADF is treated with.

“The aim here is not to lose talented individuals whom we have spent many, many millions of dollars in training. Many, many times more than one million dollars worth of treatment.”

As well as Pauline Hanson’s opposition to the trans healthcare spending, Liberal MP Andrew Hastie called for the military to end its funding of gender-related surgeries.

Griggs dismissed the concerns.

“I have found the public debate to be almost bordering on hysterical,” he said.

The controversy also follows the news that the Defence Force recently accepted its first cadets of non-binary gender.

Griggs called for acceptance and respect of all military personnel.

“We can only fight and win as a team and we can only do that, like any team, if we respect each other,” he said.

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