Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and a California law professor on July 12 clashed during a Senate hearing over whether only women can get pregnant.
Khiara Bridges, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley who was called as a witness by Senate Democrats, used the phrase "people with the capacity for pregnancy" several times during the hearing, which focused on legal concerns following the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade.
Hawley asked if Bridges was referring to women, prompting the exchange.
"Many women, cis women, have the capacity for pregnancy. Many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy. There are also trans men capable of pregnancy, and nonbinary people," Bridges claimed.
Cis is a word used by activists to describe people who identify as their natural sex from birth. Transgender refers to people who identify otherwise.
"This isn't really a women's rights issue" then, Hawley said.
"We can recognize that this impacts women while also recognizing that it impacts other groups. Those things are not mutually exclusive," Bridges said.
"I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic and it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them," she added.
"You're saying I'm opening up to violence by asking whether or not women are the folks who can have pregnancies?" Hawley asked.
Bridges said that a number of transgender people commit suicide, which she pinned on people "denying trans people exist and pretending not to know they exist.
"Do you believe that men can get pregnant?" she asked Hawley.
"No," he said.
"So you're denying that trans people exist. Thank you," she responded.
"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, they told that they're opening up people to violence?" Hawley wondered.
"They're allowed to question me. We have a good time in my class. You should join," Bridges said.
"I bet," Hawley said.
"You might learn a lot," Bridges said.
"I would learn a lot. I've learned a lot through this exchange. Extraordinary," he said.
Following the hearing, Hawley took to Twitter.
"The Democrats say what they really think: men can get pregnant and if you disagree, you are 'transphobic' and responsible for violence," Hawley wrote on the social media website. "For today’s left, disagreement with them = violence. So you must not disagree."
Others said Bridges made sense, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).