A California-Berkeley law professor on Tuesday labeled U.S. Senator Josh Hawley "transphobic" for claiming that only women can get pregnant.
The exchange took place during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on abortion when Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, asked the professor – Khiara M. Bridges of the California-Berkeley School of Law – why she kept avoiding the word "women."
Hawley: Why are you using the term "person with a capacity for pregnancy" instead of "woman?"— Greg Price (@greg_price11) July 12, 2022
Bridges: "Your line of questioning is transphobic and opens trans people to violence."
Hawley: "You're saying I'm opening up people to violence by saying women can have pregnancies?" pic.twitter.com/Yi46NlQCr0
A video of the back-and-forth quickly went viral.
"You've referred to 'people with a capacity for pregnancy.' Would that be women?" Hawley asked.
"Many women – cis women – have the capacity for pregnancy. Many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy," Bridges answered. "There are also trans men who are capable of pregnancy, as well as non-binary people who are capable of pregnancy."
"So this isn't really a women's rights issue," Hawley said. "It's a what?"
"We should recognize that this impacts women while also recognizing that it impacts other groups," Bridges responded. "Those things are not mutually exclusive."
Not happy with the answer, Hawley pressed on: "Your view is that the core of this right then is about what?"
Bridges then accused Hawley of crossing a line.
"I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic, and it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them," she retorted.
"You're saying that I'm opening up people to violence by asking whether or not women are the folks who can have pregnancies?" Hawley asked.
"I want to note," Bridges said, "that one out of five transgender persons have attempted suicide."
Hawley asked, "Because of the line of questioning? We can't talk about it?"
"Because denying that trans people exist and pretending not to know that they exist …" Bridges said.
"I am denying that trans people exist by asking you if you're talking about women?" Hawley asked.
Bridges then asked the senator, "Do you believe that men can get pregnant?"
"No, I don't think men can get pregnant," Hawley answered.
"So you're denying that trans people exist," Bridges said.
Neither Bridges nor Hawley backed down.
"And that leads to violence? Is this how you run your classroom?" Hawley asked. "Are students allowed to question you, or are they also treated like this where they're told that they're opening up people to violence by questioning you?
"They're allowed to question," Bridges said. "You should join. You might learn a lot."
"I would learn a lot," Hawley said. "I've learned a lot during this exchange."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Samuel Corum/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.