“Did Kamala Harris just misgender trans women?”
Transgender women were upset after Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, on Monday seemed to confuse transgender men with transgender women during a CNN town hall.
Speaking to Don Lemon, the Democratic presidential candidate boasted of her record of supporting LGBT rights when she was California’s top prosecutor. She pointed to her refusal to defend a short-lived state law banning gay marriage.
“As attorney general, [LGBT rights] was one of the pivotal issues,” she said. “Prop 8 went to the United States Supreme Court, we won, and wedding bells rang across the country.”
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Harris, who was San Francisco’s district attorney before being elected attorney general, said she went above and beyond to educate other prosecutors about LGBT cases.
“Around the Matthew Shepard era, I brought DAs from around the country to San Francisco, where I hosted training for prosecutors around the country on how to defeat the ‘gay panic’ defense.”
Shepard’s murderer falsely claimed the college student being gay had motivated his 1998 killing, and Harris subsequently led efforts to ban such defenses.
But during the CNN town hall, the candidate seemed to get confused about the relevant case law when she said: “You’ll remember the tragic cases involving transgender men who were killed.”
Transgender women viewers quickly concluded that Harris had mean to refer to the murder of a transgender woman, and they were not happy to have been “misgendered.”
“Trans consultant” Mey Rude, who thought she had pinpointed the mistake, complained that Harris seemed to be “straight up pandering” and “can’t even get trans murders right.”
i think kamala harris combined the brandon teena case (or more likely boys don’t cry, which came out the year after matthew shephard’s murder) with gwen araujo’s murder. this feels like straight up pandering, she can’t even get trans murders straight https://t.co/5N4NqWWJeP
— “Sweet” Mey Rude (@meyrude) April 23, 2019
Writer Katelyn Burns was outraged.
Lmao did Kamala Harris just misgender trans women?
— Katelyn Burns (@transscribe) April 23, 2019
Freelance journalist Rachel Vorona Cote said that she couldn’t “take seriously somebody’s allegiance to the queer community when they are unclear on fundamental vocabulary.”
If I did not mishear—and I don’t believe I did—Kamala Harris confused transgender men and transgender women when she referred to the violent effects of “gay panic.” This is not difficult terminology to keep straight, and Harris should know better. #CNNTownHall
— Rachel Vorona Cote (@RVoronaCote) April 23, 2019
Tech entrepreneur Erica Windisch said transgender rights are too “important” and “tenuous” for such slip-ups. She said she would have expected this kind of behavior from a Republican.
I appreciate this, but why did you misgender trans women during tonight's town hall? This is not something a President should be making mistakes on when trans rights are so important and yet so tenuous. I'd expect this of a Republican.
— Erica Windisch (@ewindisch) April 23, 2019
But YouTuber Kat Blaque bitterly evinced no surprise at seeing a Democrat allegedly trying to pose as an LGBT ally.
Wow a democrat got something wrong about trans issues? I'm so shocked. Called trans women men? Much surprise. Waves a flag but doesn't understand it? Wouldn't see that coming.
— Kat Blaque (@kat_blaque) April 23, 2019
Out Magazine editor Raquel Willis doubted whether Harris “knows the difference between trans women and trans men.” She predicted that the candidate’s supposed gaffe could “cement” her “bad rap” among transgender people.
According to Willis, the “community” is already skeptical of Harris because, as attorney general, she defended California’s denial of sex reassignment surgery to a transgender prisoners.
She already has a bad rap with the trans community for arguing that trans people should be denied medically necessary care. So this really might cement it. @chasestrangio put it well weeks ago: https://t.co/veSeW5RUjL
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) April 23, 2019
Harris’ record as a prosecutor, though relatively liberal, has proved problematic for her candidacy even beyond transgender circles. Many progressives mistrust her simply as a former member of the criminal justice system. Her attempts to prove her wokness on the campaign trail have repeatedly proved inadequate or downright embarrassing.
During the town hall, Harris also expressed openness to giving criminals, including the Boston Marathon bomber, the right to vote from prison, and pledged to take executive action as president to limit access to firearms.
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