During a congressional hearing on the fragile state of abortion care in the US, Democratic US Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admonished a Republican congressman’s attempt to undermine the idea that transgender people can become pregnant.
Republican US Rep Andrew Clyde asked a physician on the witness panel a series of transphobic questions and repeatedly interrupted his answers.
“The same folks who tell us … that [Covid-19] is just a flu, that climate change isn’t real, that January 6 was nothing but a tourist visit, are now trying to tell us that transgender people aren’t real,” congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez told the House Oversight Committee hearing on 29 September.
In the aftermath of the attack on the US Capitol, the Georgia congressman claimed during a committee hearing that there was “no insurrection” and that images of rioters resembled a “normal tourist visit.” He was barricaded inside the House of Representatives as the mob breached the halls of Congress. He also has called the climate crisis “fake news”.
“I would say that their claim is probably just as legitimate as all their others, which is to say, not very much. At all,” Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez said.
Abortion providers and advocates testifed to the committee about the far-reaching consequences of state-level anti-abortion laws that have advanced in the weeks after the US Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned precendents affirming the constitutional right to abortion in the cases of Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey.
Dr Bhavik Kumar – the medical director for primary and trans care with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast – practises in Texas, where three overlapping anti-abortion laws include severe criminal penalties for providers, including life in prison.
Transgender men and transgender nonbinary people who have a functioning uterus and ovaries can become pregnant and often face unique and pervasive barriers to abortion care, exacerbated by state-level bans and restrictions.
During Thursday’s hearing, Mr Clyde appeared to repeatedly deny that transgender people exist or could become pregnant.
“Are you saying that a biological female who identifies as a man and therefore becomes pregnant is, quote, ‘a man’?” Mr Clyde asked. “Is that what you’re saying?”
“These questions about who can become pregnant are really missing the point,” Dr Kumar replied. “I’m here to talk about what’s happening in Texas.”
“No, no, no – this is me asking a question and you answering. I’m asking the questions, sir. Not you,” Rep Clyde said.
“Right, and I’m answering the questions. Somebody with a uterus may have the capability of becoming pregnant, whether they are a woman or a man,” Dr Kumar said.
Rep Clyde interrupted him: “OK, we’re done.”
“Not every person with a uterus has the ability to become pregnant,” Dr Kumar added. “This is medicine.”
Following the hearing, Dr Kumar posted on Twitter that “Trans people exist. Trans people have abortions. Abortion is essential healthcare and so is gender-affirming care.”
“I will not let bullies who are out of touch with reality silence or stop me from advocating for people who need trans and abortion care,” he wrote.
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