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Berkeley professor to Hawley: ‘Your line of questioning is transphobic’

Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges rebuked Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, accusing him of peppering her with a line of transphobic questioning.

Bridges during an exchange with Hawley at the hearing cited the suicide attempt rate among transgender people and accused Hawley of asking questions that could lead to violence against the trans community. Hawley appeared annoyed with those accusations and eventually asked Bridges if that was how she treated her students.

The dispute began when Hawley began asking questions about pregnancy.

“You’ve referred to people with a capacity for pregnancy. Would that be women?” the senator asked Bridges during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on abortion rights.

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

Seemingly unsatisfied with Bridges’s answer, Hawley asked her, “Your view, the core of this right is about what?”


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“I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic, and it opens up trans people to violence,” Bridges responded.

“Wow. Are you saying that I’m opening up people to violence by asking whether or not women can have pregnancies?” Hawley asked her.

Bridges, an academic expert on race, class and reproductive rights, noted that studies have shown that 1 in 5 trans people have attempted suicide.

Hawley stopped the professor after she offered that statistic, interjecting, “Because of my line of questioning? So we can’t talk about it?”

Bridges again said Hawley’s questions were “denying that trans people exist and pretending not to know that they exist.”

“Do you believe that men can get pregnant?” she pointedly asked the senator.

“No, I don’t think men can get pregnant,” Hawley responded.

“So you’re denying that trans people exist,” Bridges said, to which Hawley asked again, “And that leads to violence?”

“Is this how you run your classroom? Are students allowed to question you, or are they also treated like this?” Hawley said.

“We have a good time in my class. You should join,” she said. “You would learn a lot.”

Tuesday’s Senate hearing was focused on the legal consequences of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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