Josh Hawley accused of transphobic questioning at abortion hearing

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday on the legal impact of the end of Roe v. Wade, was accused by a congressional witness of employing a transphobic line of questioning.

Hawley asked University of California at Berkeley law professor Khiara M. Bridges whom she was talking about when she spoke about “people with a capacity for pregnancy.”

“Would that be women?” Hawley asked.

Bridges, who had during the hearing defended access to abortion care for all people who are at risk of pregnancy, explained that cisgender women, trans men and nonbinary people can get pregnant.

“Many cis women have the capacity for pregnancy. Many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy,” Bridges said. “There are also trans men who are capable of pregnancy as well as nonbinary people who are capable of pregnancy.”

“So this isn’t really a women’s rights issue?” Hawley replied.

Bridges explained to Hawley that the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe impacts cisgender women as well as other groups. Those things, she said, are not mutually exclusive.

Some experts on gender and reproductive rights use gender-neutral terms including “people with a capacity for pregnancy” and “pregnant people” when talking about these issues, which help illustrate that not only cisgender women have the ability for pregnancy — and cisgender women aren’t the only ones impacted by decisions to restrict reproductive health care.

Hawley, however, doubled down on his questioning, asking Bridges what the core of her argument was.

Bridges then told the senator his line of questioning was transphobic, because he was refusing to acknowledge transgender people.

“It opens trans people to violence by not recognizing them,” Bridges told Hawley.