Carson defends transgender comments, hits media for 'mischaracterizations'

Carson defends transgender comments, hits media for 'mischaracterizations'
© Greg Nash

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump officials say aid to Puerto Rico was knowingly stalled after Hurricane Maria Yes, President Trump, we do have a homelessness crisis and you're making it harder for us to address New HUD rule would eliminate housing stability for thousands of students MORE on Friday defended his comments from earlier in the week about transgender people, sending an agencywide email blasting what he called “blatant mischaracterizations” of his remarks in the press.

“During a recent meeting with local staff in San Francisco, I made reference to the fact that I had heard from many women’s groups about the difficulty they were having with women’s shelters because sometimes men would claim to be women,” Carson wrote, according to The Washington Post.

“This made many of the women feel unsafe, and one of the groups described a situation to me in which ‘big hairy men’ would come in and have to be accepted into the women’s shelter even though it made the women in the facility very uncomfortable.”

He added: “My point was that we have to permit policies that take into consideration the rights of everybody, including those women — many of which have suffered at the hands of male domestic abusers — who believe there are men who might hurt them,” he added.

While he said he thinks “all people are valuable,” Carson wrote that it’s up to the government to "make sure that all people are treated fairly and equally," the Post reported.

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He said he typically doesn't “respond to media stories” but added that since the “blatant mischaracterizations” of his remarks “are circulated in an irresponsible way, I feel it is important to set the record straight.”

Carson sparked backlash on Thursday after the Post reported that he remarked about "big, hairy men" trying to enter homeless shelters for women during a meeting at the agency's San Francisco office, with three people at the meeting saying they interpreted his remark to refer to transgender women.

Two agency staff members told the newspaper that he also complained that society did not know the difference between men and women anymore, prompting many people at the meeting to be upset and at least one woman to leave in protest.

Several Democrats blasted Carson's reported remarks and renewed their calls for his resignation in the wake of his comments, with Rep. Jennifer WextonJennifer Lynn WextonCarson defends transgender comments, hits media for 'mischaracterizations' Ben Carson's remarks during San Francisco visit spark backlash Democrats blast HUD for removing LGBT language from grant competition MORE (D-Va.) deeming his remarks “revolting.”

“These comments only affirm that his recent efforts to erase the Equal Access Rule are rooted in ignorance, not sound policy. By allowing shelters to discriminate against transgender Americans, the Secretary is putting lives in danger," she said.

Carson has previously ignited controversy over remarks about transgender people. He told The Hill in 2016 that being being transgender “doesn’t make any sense.” According to the Post, he has also said transgender people are "abnormal" and shouldn't be in the military.