Conservative commentator Matt Walsh silenced a Tennessee lawmaker this week with one simple question about transgender surgery for minors.
Speaking at a hearing before the Tennessee House Health Committee about House Bill 1 — which would ban life-altering transgender operations for minors — state Rep. Caleb Hemmer (D) received more than he bargained for when he asked Walsh about something unrelated to the matter before the hearing.
Hemmer asked Walsh about comments he made years ago in which he lamented the delay of adulthood in modern Western society. In those comments, Walsh observed that the state of development now called "adolescence" or the "teenage years" was historically the beginning of adulthood.
"How does that relate to this subject?" Walsh asked.
"Just curious of your definition, if you feel like people are adults at 16 —" Hemmer followed up.
"No. People are adults at 18," Walsh interjected. "But, actually, your brain is not fully developed until you're 25. So, we should be having a conversation about whether we should even be doing the surgeries when people are 18. But, certainly, before 18, it's absurd."
That's when Walsh turned the tables on Hemmer and asked him a question.
"Do you think a 16-year-old can meaningfully consent to having their body parts removed?" Walsh asked. "Do you? No?"
What followed was more than 10 seconds of silence. Hemmer never answered the question. Instead, he appeared to protest to committee chairman Cameron Sexton (R) that Walsh, a witness at the hearing, asked a question.
"Yeah, we ask the questions," Sexton told Walsh, stumbling over his words.
Another noteworthy exchange from the hearing came when state Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D) asked Walsh for his qualifications for speaking on the issue.
"My background that qualifies me to speak to this is that I'm a human being with a brain and common sense, and I have a soul, and, so, therefore, I think it's a really bad idea to chemically castrate children," Walsh told Clemmons. "Now it's true, I didn’t go to college, but I did go to school long enough to learn how to read, so I could read the data for myself, and that's exactly what I've done."
Clemmons followed up, "And for what purpose do you conduct your research and use this brain of yours?"
"I use it for the purpose of trying to protect children from being castrated and mutilated," Walsh shot back.
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