Asking whether only women can become pregnant could get you accused of being transphobic, as Sen. Josh Hawley can attest.
At a Tuesday hearing, University of California Berkeley School of Law professor Khiara M. Bridges accused the Missouri Republican of engaging in “transphobic” questioning after he asked her what she meant by “people with a capacity for pregnancy.”
“The Democrats say what they really think: men can get pregnant and if you disagree, you are ‘transphobic’ and responsible for violence,” Mr. Hawley tweeted afterward. “For today’s left, disagreement with them = violence. So you must not disagree.”
Mr. Hawley touched off the exchange by asking the law professor during testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on abortion if she meant “women” when she used the phrase “people with a capacity for pregnancy.”
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“Many women, cis women, have the capacity for pregnancy,” Ms. Bridges replied. “Many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy. There are also trans men who are capable of pregnancy as well as nonbinary people who are capable of pregnancy.”
Mr. Hawley asked if that meant that “this isn’t really a women’s rights issue,” referring to abortion, at which point Ms. Bridges took him to task.
“So I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic,” she said. “It opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them.”
Mr. Hawley responded: “Wow. You’re saying that I’m opening up people to violence by asking whether or not women are the folks who can have pregnancies?”
Ms. Bridges replied that “one out of five transgender persons have attempted suicide,” prompting Mr. Hawley to ask, “Because of my line of questioning? So we can’t talk about it?”
The professor then asked him: “Do you believe that men can get pregnant?” The senator replied: “No, I don’t think that men can get pregnant.”
That was apparently not the answer she was looking for. “So you’re denying trans people exist,” she said.
Mr. Hawley asked: “And that leads to violence? Is this how you run your classroom? Are students allowed to question you or are they treated like this, when they’re told that they’re opening up people to violence by questioning?”
Ms. Bridges swung back with, “We have a good time in my classroom. You should join. You might learn a lot.”
He didn’t disagree.
“I would learn a lot. I’ve learned a lot by this exchange. Extraordinary,” Mr. Hawley said.
The back-and-forth, which quickly went viral on social media, was reminiscent of then-Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s decision to punt when asked by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, to define what is a woman.
“I’m not a biologist,” replied the jurist, whose nomination has since been confirmed.