Sen. Josh Hawley's questions called transphobic in heated exchange with Berkeley law professor

"I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic."

BySarah Fortinsky and Devan Cole, CNNWire
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
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A Berkeley law professor is going viral for her exchange with Republican Senator Josh Hawley while discussing trans and reproductive rights.

WASHINGTON -- A Bay Area law professor is going viral for her exchange with Republican Senator Josh Hawley on Tuesday while discussing trans and reproductive rights.

The tense exchange happened during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

"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.

"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."

The Missouri senator was accused by Professor Bridges of engaging in a line of transphobic questioning during the hearing Tuesday on the legal consequences of the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade.

RELATED: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, transforming abortion rights in US

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.

RELATED: UCSF doctor plans floating clinic for states banning abortion, ready for legal battle

"No, I don't think men can get pregnant," Hawley said, to which the professor replied: "So you're denying that trans people exist."

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Senator Hawley appeared annoyed with these responses and eventually asked Bridges if that was how she treated her students.

"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."

Professor Bridges is an academic expert on race, class and reproductive rights.

KGO-TV staff contributed to this report.

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