Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley Called 'Transphobic' by Law Professor in Heated Senate Hearing

UC Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges noted that the lawmaker's line of questioning in an abortion hearing "opens trans people up to violence"

A UC Berkeley law professor told Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley that his line of questioning was "transphobic" during a Senate hearing related to abortion rights Tuesday.

The tense exchange began when Hawley, 42, asked Khiara Bridges, an expert in race and reproductive rights, for clarification regarding a comment she made about "people with the capacity for pregnancy."

"Would that be women?" Hawley asked the professor, who was testifying in the hearing about the abortion restriction case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which prompted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade last month.

"Many women, cis women, have the capacity for pregnancy," Bridges responded. "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."

Khiara Bridges, Sen. Josh Hawley
Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO/AP; Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP

"So this isn't really a women's rights issue?" the Republican senator asked.

"We can recognize that this issue impacts women while also recognizing that it also impacts other groups. Those things aren't mutually exclusive," she said.

The back-and-forth continued with Bridges telling Hawley that his line of questioning was "transphobic and it opens trans people up to violence."

"Wow," Hawley said in a seemingly sarcastic tone. "So you're saying that I'm opening people up to violence by asking if women are the folks that can have pregnancies?"

Bridges responded by noting that "1 out of 5 transgender persons has attempted suicide."

Hawley then told Bridges that he didn't "think men can get pregnant," to which she replied: "Then you are denying that trans people exist."

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A day after the tense exchange, Hawley posted his take on Twitter while tweeting a story from Fox News. "Every so often the left says what they really think out loud," he wrote. "Yesterday was one of those moments."

Other lawmakers have thanked Bridges for refusing to let bigotry toward a vulnerable population go unchecked, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who scoffed on Twitter at "Hawley's feigned shock at the recognition that he incites violence."

"The man raised a fist w/ Jan 6th-ers who yelled 'Hang Mike Pence' & fundraised off it," she tweeted. "Now he wants to be all 'Me?? Opening people to violence??😤'"

Hawley, the former attorney general of Missouri, unseated Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in the 2018 midterm election. During his three-and-a-half-year tenure as a senator, he has aligned with far-right extremist views, branding himself as a politician willing to carry on the legacy of former President Donald Trump.

After Trump lost the 2020 election, Hawley announced that he would refuse to certify the Electoral College vote count in an effort to keep Joe Biden out of the White House. In addition to spreading election fraud lies, he was seen putting a fist in the air in solidarity with the Capitol rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, a move that ultimately cost him his book deal with Simon & Schuster.

Hawley further separated himself from other Republican senators by voting against nearly all of President Biden's cabinet nominations and executive appointments in 2021.

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