During a Senate hearing on the future of abortion rights this week, state senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) was taken to task for making transphobic comments. Berkley law professor Khiara Bridges, one of the witnesses in the hearing, gave the senator a lesson on inclusive language during a moment in the hearing that quickly went viral.

Hawley, in his line of questioning, asked Bridges why she kept using the term “people with a capacity for pregnancy” when she was describing the people who would be affected by bans and restrictions on abortion.

Related: Legal basics for forming LGBTQ families

“Would that be women?” Hawley asked.

Bridges explained that she was using this term to be inclusive of different groups who would be affected by these laws. “Many cis women have the capacity for pregnancy, many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy,” Bridges said. “There are also trans men who are capable of pregnancy as well as non-binary people who are capable of pregnancy.”

“So this isn’t really a women’s rights issue, it’s a—” Hawley began to say.

“We can recognize that this impacts women while also recognizing that it impacts other groups. Those things are not mutually exclusive,” said Bridges.

Hawley then asked Bridges what she thought the "core of this right" was about, to which Bridges replied that his views and remarks limit the conversation on abortion rights and who it should be centered on.

“I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic, and it opens up trans people to violence,” said Bridges, citing the high attempted suicide rate among the trans community—noting that 1 in 5 transgender people commit suicide each year. According to a 2021 study by the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ rights advocacy group, more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth in the country seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. 

Related: It’s time to stop calling infertility a women’s health issue

Hawley disagreed that his remarks could contribute to violence. Bridges, who might be the most well-prepared witness in hearing history, called Hawley out for denying the existence of trans people.

“Do you believe that men can get pregnant?” said Bridges.

“No, I don’t think men can get pregnant,” Hawley said.

"Then you are denying that trans people exist," she said. "Thank you."

When Republican politicians reduce abortion to a “women’s issue” or an issue only for people who can carry pregnancies, we exclude a wide variety of people. According to the ACLU, there is a tendency to exclude men, without an acknowledgment that some trans men can become pregnant and despite the fact that cisgender men are not the only people who can’t become pregnant. Trans women, cisgender women who struggle with infertilty, some intersex people, some trans men and some non-binary people, all cannot become pregnant.

Related: Overturning Roe v. Wade is about so much more than abortion

The ACLU also explains that structures focused on banning abortion are also focused on restricting the rights of women and the rights of trans people. Over 300 anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ bills have been proposed in state legislatures just in 2022, and over 20 new anti-trans bills have become law over the past three years. In the same period of time, 541 of restrictions aimed at pushing abortion out of reach have been proposed and 38 have become law.

Remember—if feminism isn't intersectional, it isn't true feminism.

As the heated exchange between Hawley and Bridges went on, the senator chided the professor for how he assumes she must run her classroom.

 “Is this how you run your classroom? Are students allowed to question you or are they also treated like this?" Hawley asked.

"We have a good time in my class,” Bridges responded. “You should join. You might learn a lot."