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'Transphobic': Josh Hawley riles UC Berkley prof. for saying only women can get pregnant

Josh Hawley
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., participates in a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, July 12, 2022. |

A law professor accused Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., of being "transphobic" for saying he doesn't believe “men can get pregnant” in a heated exchange during a Senate hearing Tuesday.

Hawley questioned Khiara Bridges, a law professor at UC Berkeley, an expert witness who was called to testify as part of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on abortion and the legal impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Hawley asked Bridges why she used the phrase “people with the capacity for pregnancy.”  “Would that be women?” he asked.

Bridges responded by declaring, “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 nonbinary people who are capable of pregnancy.”

When Hawley suggested that the ability of “trans men” and “nonbinary people” to get pregnant calls into question the claim that the debate about abortion constitutes a “women’s rights issue,” Bridges replied, “We can recognize that this impacts women while also recognizing that it impacts other groups.” 

“Those things are not mutually exclusive,” she added. After Hawley asked a follow-up question inquiring as to what serves as “the core of this right,” Bridges maintained that “your line of questioning is transphobic and it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them.” 

Hawley pushed back on her analysis, asking, “You’re saying I’m opening people up to violence by asking whether or not women are the folks who have pregnancies?”

The professor also accused Hawley of "denying that trans people exist and pretending not to know that they exist," while the senator rejected the assertion that he was "denying that trans people exist" by asking "about women having pregnancies.”

Bridges then asked, “Do you believe that men can get pregnant?”

“No, I don’t think men can get pregnant,” an exasperated Hawley replied.

Bridges argued that by not believing that men can pregnant Hawley was “denying that trans people exist.”

The exchange between Hawley and Bridges comes as debates about gender and sexuality have emerged at the forefront of American politics.

A survey conducted by Pew Research Center in May and released last week found that 60% of U.S. adults believe that “whether a person is a man or a woman is determined by sex at birth.” In other words, 60% of Americans agree with Hawley that only women can get pregnant. 

The research also measured strong support for requiring trans-identified athletes to “compete on teams that match the sex they were assigned at birth, not the gender they identify with.”

Fifty-eight percent of respondents supported requiring athletes to compete on sports teams that correspond with their biological sex, in contrast to 17% who think that trans-identified athletes should have the ability to compete on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. 

The participation of trans-identified men in women’s sports has caused outcry due to concerns that the biological differences between men and women give trans-identified males an unfair advantage over their biologically female counterparts. USA Powerlifting listed “increased body and muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue” as examples of the biological advantages male athletes have over female athletes. 

A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that biologically male athletes still retain an advantage over biological females even after one year of taking feminizing hormones. The participation policies for trans-identified athletes have received renewed attention after Lia Thomas, a male athlete who had previously competed on the men’s swimming team at the University of Pennsylvania, shattered records after joining the women’s swimming team. 

Several states have passed laws requiring athletes to compete on sports teams that correspond with their biological sex. The LGBT Movement Advancement Project, which opposes such legislation, identifies those states as Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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