Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) used anti-trans rhetoric during a hearing on the future of abortion rights on Tuesday, becoming the latest Republican lawmaker to do so, all the while skirting around dealing with the effects of abortion restrictions across the country.
“Why did Khiara Bridges keep using the term ‘those with the capability for pregnancy’ when she was outlining who would be affected by bans and limits on abortion?” Hawley questioned one of the witnesses during his line of questioning.
“That sounds like a female voice. “Hawley inquired. It was Bridges’ intention to be inclusive when she used this term, she said.
According to Bridges, “Many cis women have the capacity for pregnancy, but many cis women do not.” “Trans guys and non-binary persons can both become pregnant,” says the researcher.
For those who identify as cisgender, or those whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth, the word cisgender is used. It’s not a women’s rights issue, it’s a — ” ” Hawley argued back.
“While understanding that this affects women, we may also realise that other groups are affected. A person can have both of them at the same time,” stated Bridges. On the following question, Hawley inquired as to what she thought was the “heart of this right.” At this point, Bridges pointed out that his comments had restricted the focus of the debate on abortion rights.
When asked about the high percentage of transgender persons attempting suicide, Bridges responded, “I know that your line of questioning is transphobic and it opens up trans people to violence. Bridges responded to Hawley’s concern that his comments would incite violence by pointing out that he was denying the existence of trans persons. No, I don’t believe in it at all. Bridges made this statement. As Hawley put it, “No, I don’t think males can get pregnant.” Bridges responded, “So you’re denying the existence of trans individuals.” “And then what happens?” Hawley was quoted as saying.
There has been a rise in physical violence against trans people as a result of politicians’ political attacks on trans people, including denying their existence and using legislation to limit their freedom of movement, access to activities, and access to health care.
Time magazine reported in 2021 that laws targeting transgender individuals has led to an uptick in anti-trans violence.
According to UCLA, transgender people, particularly those of African-American and Latino descent, are significantly at greater risk of violence than their cis counterparts. Republicans’ use of transphobia in discussing subjects on which they’ve taken a posture that’s not reflective of the attitude of most Americans is illustrated once again by Hawley’s questioning, which failed to acknowledge how many individuals are affected by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. Hawley’s focus on wording allowed him to avoid interacting with the fact that most Americans favour abortion rights, and instead focus on a topic that has proven to be a rallying point for the Republican base.
Similar tactics were employed by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) when she was nominated to the Supreme Court for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in the spring. Blackburn challenged Jackson to define “woman” after a series of dishonest attacks highlighting the culture wars. It’s a calculated move on their part to target inclusive language. Because it excludes individuals that are affected by policies such as abortion bans, Republicans can mislead and minimise their impact.
Using transphobic language is also popular with some Republican supporters. While the subject at hand, in Hawley’s case, he and his party seek to limit abortion access even though it is an unpopular position nationally, this tactic deflects attention from it.
Transphobia “is not an ideology — it is a sound-bite wedge issue being leveraged by opportunistic politicians, fear-mongering to their right-wing base,” Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative fellow Julie Allen wrote for WBUR.
One in five transgender people had tried suicide, according to figures cited by Bridges. She argued that Hawley’s questioning contributes to violence towards transgender persons. To counter the criticism of Senate Democrats, Hawley moved his attention to Heidi Matzke, who serves as executive director of Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Sacramento, California. On the second day of the hearing, Planned Parenthood’s chief medical officer, Colleen McNicholas, testified that the state’s abortion prohibition was an unnecessary obstacle for doctors. Hawley, who supports Missouri’s ban on abortions save in circumstances of rape, incest, and to safeguard the mother’s life, has stated that he supports the state’s ban.