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Posted under: Politics

Ben Carson Is Refusing To Apologize For A Comment That Was Perceived As Transphobic

Staffers at an HUD meeting in San Francisco walked out after Ben Carson's comments on trans women.

Update (October 23, 2019): Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, had a lot to say about his controversial comments on transgender people, except for an apology.

The Washington Post reported that Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), during a congressional hearing on Tuesday, asked Carson if he felt the need to apologize for his comments. Carson reportedly said “big, hairy men” were trying to invade women’s homeless shelters during a HUD staff meeting in San Francisco last month.

“No,” he said during a portion of the three-hour meeting, focusing primarily on affordable housing. 

“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,” Carson said. 

He added that he was attempting to relay the concerns of a women’s group from Alaska when he made the comment. CNN reported the HUD secretary couldn't recall the name of the group from Alaska.

“I didn’t describe transgender women that way,” Carson said at the hearing. “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.”

After the hearing, Rep. Wexton tweeted that Carson had “regrettably” declined the opportunity to address his recent comments.

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

The Post broke the story about Carson’s remarks upsetting many of the roughly 50 HUD staff members who were present at the San Francisco meeting. The newspaper also reported at least one woman walked out of the room in protest.

Digging deeper into his ideological trench at the staff meeting, Carson said society no longer understands the difference between men and women, which the staff interpreted as an attack against transgender women. 

Carson said he was under the belief that single-sex shelters should have the discretion to turn away transgender people, The Post reported.

Transgender advocates said Carson fell into a thought pattern that infers that men will pretend to be women to gain access to battered women’s shelters. The Post added that when Carson ran for president he referred to transgender people as “abnormal” and said they should not be allowed in the armed forces.

Blavity noted further instances of Carson’s comments on transgender people. In an interview with The Hill in 2016, he said being transgender “doesn't make any sense” and compared it to changing someone’s ethnicity. 

“For someone to wake up and think that they belong to a different sex because they feel different that day is the same as if you woke up and said, ‘I’m Afghani today because I saw a movie about that last night, and even though my genetics might not indicate that, that’s the way I feel, and if you say that I’m not, then you’re a racist,’” Carson told The Hill.

Carson also compared being transgender to a leopard trying to change its spots in his interview with The Hill.

“It’s not based on your feelings, it’s based on what you are,” Carson said. “Can a leopard change its spots? No. It can’t because it feels like maybe it’s a different creature. No, it’s still a leopard. Sorry.” 

Advocates have also been concerned that an HUD proposal would allow federally funded shelters to deny people admission on religious grounds or force transgender women to share bathrooms and sleeping quarters with men. Blavity reported that the policy could disproportionately hurt the LGBTQ community.

Original (September 20, 2019): Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is facing criticism after reportedly referring to trans women as "big, hairy men."

According to The Washington Post, Carson made the comment during a HUD meeting in San Francisco, saying “big, hairy men” are infiltrating women’s homeless shelters.

Carson also said society no longer seemed to know the difference between men and women, comments which upset many of the staffers at Tuesday's meeting and caused one woman to walk out, The Washington Post reported.

“The Secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false," a HUD senior official said in a statement to The Washington Post.

The official added that Carson was referring to men who pretend to be women to gain access to battered women’s shelters and not singling out transgender women as “big, hairy men.”

It's not the first time Carson has gotten himself into trouble with his comments on transgender people.

Carson has previously said transgender people are abnormal and they shouldn't be in the military.

In an interview with The Hill in 2016, Carson said being transgender “doesn’t make any sense” and compared it to changing ethnicity. 

“For someone to wake up and think that they belong to a different sex because they feel different that day is the same as if you woke up and said, 'I’m Afghani today because I saw a movie about that last night, and even though my genetics might not indicate that, that’s the way I feel, and if you say that I’m not, then you’re a racist,'" Carson told The Hill.

Carson also compared being transgender to a leopard trying to change its spots in his interview with The Hill.

“It’s not based on your feelings, it’s based on what you are,” Carson said. “Can a leopard change its spots? No. It can’t because it feels like maybe it’s a different creature. No, it’s still a leopard. Sorry.” 

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