Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) waged a war of words with a liberal law professor who accused him of being "transphobic" Tuesday at a Senate committee hearing because he does not believe that men can get pregnant.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the consequences of the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization — which returned the abortion issue to the states — University of California, Berkeley, law professor Khiara Bridges made repeated references to a "person with a capacity for pregnancy" instead of using the word "woman."
At one point during questions from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Bridges used the convoluted and dehumanizing phrase for women five times within one minute to be inclusive of females who identify as males or another gender and can still have children.
When it was his turn to ask questions, Hawley asked whether Bridges was talking about women and whether abortion was solely a "women's rights" issue if "men" can have abortions too.
"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 non-binary people who are capable of pregnancy," Bridges said.
"So this isn't really a women's rights issue," Hawley said, choosing to pick a fight over the definition of the word "woman."
"We can recognize that this impacts women while also recognizing that it impacts other groups; those things are not mutually exclusive, Senator Hawley," Bridges sneered.
When the senator followed up, Bridges grew wide-eyed and lectured Hawley about how his questions are a threat to transgender people.
"So, um, I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic," Bridges said, scoffing. "And it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing [them]."
"Wow, you're saying that I'm opening up people to violence by asking whether or not women are the folks who can have pregnancies?" Hawley asked with a sardonic tone.
"So, I want to note that one out of five transgender persons have attempted suicide," Bridges stated for the record.
"Because of my line of questioning?" Hawley interrupted. "So we can't talk about it?"
"Because denying that trans people exist and pretending not to know that they exist —" Bridges started before Hawley cut her off.
"I'm denying that trans people exist by asking you if you're talking about women having pregnancies?" an incredulous Hawley asked.
"Are you? Are you? Are you?" Bridges jabbered. "Do you believe that men can get pregnant?"
"No, I don't think men can get pregnant," Hawley answered. And Bridges pounced.
"So you are denying that trans people exist, thank you," she triumphantly exclaimed.
Bewildered, Hawley asked, "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 where they're told that they're opening up people to violence by questioning?"
"Oh, we have a good time in my class. You should join. You might learn a lot," the professor told Hawley.
"Wow, I would learn a lot. I’ve learned a lot just from this exchange," he replied. "Extraordinary."