Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri was accused by a law professor of engaging in a line of transphobic questioning during a hearing Tuesday on the legal consequences of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling last month, some progressives have increasingly used the term “pregnant people” – as opposed to “women” – to refer to those whose right to abortion they seek to protect, in an effort to recognize that transgender men and non-binary people are also affected by the court’s decision, which overturned the 1973 landmark ruling that had made access to abortion a federal constitutional right.
“You refer to ‘people with a capacity for pregnancy.’ Would that be women?” Hawley asked Khiara Bridges, a law professor at UC Berkeley School of Law, during the sharp exchange at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Many women, cis women, have the capacity for pregnancy, many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy,” Bridges replied. “There are also trans men who are capable of pregnancy, as well as non-binary people who are capable of pregnancy.”
Pressed by Hawley about what Bridges’ view of “the core of this right, then, is about,” the professor asserted that Hawley’s questioning was transphobic because he was effectively denying the existence of trans men and non-binary people.
“I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic and it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them,” Bridges said, to which the senator responded incredulously.
Hawley’s focus on the inclusive language comes as both abortion rights and trans rights have become political flashpoints around the country, with Republican state lawmakers passing a slew of restrictive measures on both fronts in recent months and years.
Bridges went on to note that trans people suffer from high rates of attempted suicide, adding: “Denying that trans people exist and pretending not to know that they exist is dangerous.”
She asked the senator directly if he believes that men can get pregnant.
“No, I don’t think men can get pregnant,” Hawley said, to which the professor replied: “So you’re denying that trans people exist.”
“Is this how you run your classroom? Are students allowed to question you or are they also treated like this?” Hawley asked.
“We have a good time in my class,” Bridges shot back. “You should join. You might learn a lot.”
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