Senator Josh Hawley thought he had a gotcha question for Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges, but he ended up getting got, as her rhetorical savvy left him speechless and embarrassed.
Smug, mansplaining insurrectionist Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) just made a progressive celebrity out of Berkeley law professor Dr. Khiara M. Bridges, though he certainly did not mean to do so. In a Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the legal ramifications of the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, Bridges was testifying on the topics of family law and reproductive rights. Hawley figured he’d troll Bridges by exploiting the splinter issue of abortion rights and trans-inclusive language, and thought maybe he'd get himself a winning soundbite.
But Dr. Bridges splintered Hawley all the way to the woodshed, as KRON4 reports. The glorious, 90-second exchange can be seen in full below.
Berkeley Law Professor Khiara Bridges: "I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic, and it opens up trans people to violence."— CSPAN (@cspan) July 12, 2022
Sen. Josh Hawley: "Wow. Are you saying that I'm opening up people to violence by asking..." pic.twitter.com/hbGxw6RwZd
Hawley initially thinks he’s going to nail Bridges. “You’ve used a phrase, I want to make sure I understand what you mean by it. You’ve referred to ‘people with a capacity for pregnancy.’ Would that be women?”
Bridges is unflapped. “Many cis women have the capacity for pregnancy, many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy,” she responds. “There are also trans men who are capable of pregnancy as well as non-binary people who are capable of pregnancy.”
She adds, practically laughing at him, “We can recognize that this impacts women while also recognizing that it impacts other groups. Those things are not mutually exclusive, Senator Hawley.”
Then she turns the tables. “I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic, and it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them,” she flatly tells him.
Hawley gets defensive. “Wow, Are you saying that I’m opening up people to violence by asking whether or not women can have pregnancies?”
“I want to note that out of five transgender persons has attempted suicide,” she points out.
“Because of my line of questioning?” he fumes. “So we can’t talk about it?”
“Because denying trans people exist, and pretending not to know they exist – ,” she tries to explain, but of course Hawley interrupts her.
“I’m denying that trans people exist by asking you if you’re talking about if women have pregnancies?”
She then games Hawley at his own game. “Do you believe that men can get pregnant?” she asks.
“No, I don’t think men can get pregnant,” he responds.
“So you’re denying that trans people exist,” Bridges concludes.
“And that leads to violence?” Hawley asks, grasping, and now himself flustered. “Is this how you run your classroom? Are students allowed to question you or are they also treated like this?”
“We have a good time in my class, you should join,” she calmly responds. “You would learn a lot.”
Dr, Bridges is now an instant folk hero, so let’s get to know her. According to her UC Berkeley bio, Dr. Bridges was a college valedictorian who speaks three languages, is a classically trained ballet dancer, and has been published in the Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and Columbia Law Review. She’s the author of the books Reproducing Race: An Ethnography of Pregnancy as a Site of Racialization (2011), The Poverty of Privacy Rights (2017).
And don’t tell Senator Josh Hawley, but her latest book is entitled Critical Race Theory: A Primer (2019).