Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson railed against political correctness during a congressional hearing Tuesday instead of apologizing for controversial comments he made last month about transgender people.
A Washington Post article accused Carson of calling transgender women “big, hairy men” and railing against them for trying to access women’s shelters during a visit to HUD’s San Francisco office. 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.
Asked by Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) on whether he felt the need to apologize for his remarks, Carson said: “No.”
“I think this whole concept of political correctness — you can say this, you can’t say that, you can’t repeat what someone said — is total foolishness, and it’s going to destroy our nation, and we need to be more mature than that,” he added.
“Carson explained he was simply relaying the concerns of a women’s group from Alaska, whose name he could not recall, during an internal HUD meeting,” the Post reports. “He clarified he was not referring to transgender women as ‘big, hairy men.’ ”
“I didn’t describe transgender women that way,” Carson said. “I was relating a story that a women’s group told me about big, hairy men — who are not transgender women by the way — coming into their facility and having to be accepted because of the rules that were in place.”
Today I gave @SecretaryCarson the opportunity to apologize for his remarks slurring transgender women as, “big, hairy men.”
Regrettably, he declined that opportunity.
Hateful words translate into discriminatory policy—and Secretary Carson has demonstrated that time and again. pic.twitter.com/W1p7QGfGl2
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) October 22, 2019
During an appearance on Fox News last month, Carson offered a bizarre explanation for his transphobic remarks.
“Secretary, first, I want to ask you about how you are responding to the Washington Post attacks on you this morning,” Fox News host Tucker 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.”