Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson defended himself against charges that he made transphobic remarks earlier this week when he visited HUD’s San Francisco office, offering a bizarre explanation to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
Carson was responding to a Washington Post article that accused him of calling transgender women “big, hairy men” and railing against them for trying to access women’s shelters. Carson reportedly complained to HUD staff that “society no longer seemed to know the difference between men and women.”
Several HUD employees told the Post that they felt Carson’s remarks were transphobic. One woman reportedly left the meeting with Secretary Carson in protest of his remarks.
“Secretary, first, I want to ask you about how you are responding to the Washington Post attacks on you this morning,” Carlson asked, before intentionally misrepresenting gender transition, which “is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time,” according to GLAAD.
“Here you have had the local newspaper lecturing you about science. I wonder if you could clarify if someone decides to change his or her gender, does that mean that that person’s gender automatically changes? In other words, if I say I am a woman, am I?”
“Obviously it doesn’t,” Carson responded.
“You know, if I wake up tomorrow and I feel like I’m Chinese, it doesn’t necessarily make me Chinese. You know, there are biological and scientific issues that have to be dealt with, too.” (Mediaite notes that Carson appeared to be alluding to “a bit from Dave Chapelle’s recent Netflix special that has drawn criticism for mocking trans people — as well as being racist.”)
“What’s that like being dismissed as a bigot? How would you respond to that?” Carlson followed up.
“It’s the same as the president is called a racist for virtually anything he does or doesn’t do,” Carson responded. “You know, they have already made up their mind that I hate transgender people which is completely untrue.”
“It’s hard to believe that anyone watching this right now, regardless of you who they feel about your political views or the president you serve could take exception to what you are saying,” Carlson said. “I mean, you are clearly not animated by hatred of anyone and you are trying to — I’m not sucking up when I say the obvious — you are trying to do the equitable thing and to dismiss you as a bigot is one of the lowest things I have seen in a long time we are grateful to have you on to clear that up.”
“Unless we stop making everything into a political battle and trying to demonize each other, we are never going to get any problems solved,” Carson said, without directly addressing his criticism of society no longer distinguishing between men and women. “We have to be more mature than that and not let the purveyors of division and hatred prevail.”