Republican Josh Hawley accused of transphobia at Senate hearing

Josh Hawley, a Republican senator from Missouri, was accused of being transphobic by a law professor on Tuesday, at a hearing on the consequences of the supreme court decision to overturn Roe v Wade, the ruling which guaranteed the right to abortion.

During the judiciary committee hearing, Hawley, who has previously co-sponsored a bill which would prevent transgender children from competing in sports, questioned Khiara Bridges, a professor at UC Berkeley School of Law who was invited to testify on reproductive rights.

“You’ve referred to ‘people with a capacity for pregnancy’,” he said. “Would that be women?”

Bridges replied: “Many women, cis women, have the capacity for pregnancy. Many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy. There are also trans men who are capable of pregnancy, as well as non-binary people who are capable of pregnancy.”

Republicans, and other organizations in the US and beyond, have repeatedly sought to diminish the rights of trans people. Parts of the US have seen a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate and also anti-LGTBQ+ legislation over the past year.

Hawley said: “So this isn’t really a women’s rights issue. It’s … it’s what?”

Bridges said: “We can recognise that this impacts women while also recognising that it impacts other groups, those things are not mutually exclusive, Senator Hawley.”

She added: “I want to recognise that your line of questioning is transphobic and it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them.”

Hawley said: “You’re saying that I’m opening up people to violence by asking whether or not women are the folks who can have pregnancies?”

Bridges said: “I want to note that one out of five transgender persons have attempted suicide. Denying that trans people exist and pretending not to know that they exist is dangerous.”

More than 320 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in the US this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. LGBTQ+ rights could also come under threat if the supreme court revisits laws which protect the right to same-sex marriage and relationships. The conservative justice Clarence Thomas has suggested the court should do so.