Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro acknowledged the transgender community in his response to a question on reproductive rights during Wednesday’s Democratic primary debate.
Asked whether his health plan would include coverage for abortions, Castro, a former Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama administration, responded: “Yes, it would. I don’t believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice.”
He included the trans community in his response, saying anyone should have the “right to choose” an abortion regardless of their socioeconomic status.
“I believe in reproductive justice, and what that means is just because a woman — or, let’s not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female — is poor doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to exercise the right to choose,” Castro said.
The response drew applause in the debate hall and on Twitter, though some commenters noted Castro likely intended to refer to trans men and nonbinary folks with uteruses.
The debate question comes amid a wave of extreme abortion restrictions taking root in legislation around the country, including in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and Ohio.
Though the abortion bans constitute a very real attack on cis women, rooted in misogyny and sexism, many advocates have noted the laws also affect transgender, intersex and other gender-nonconforming people.
Castro was one of 10 candidates to debate on Wednesday in the first night of the Democratic primary debates hosted by NBC News in Miami. Also on stage were New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Reps. Tim Ryan (Ohio) and Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), former Reps. John Delaney (Md.) and Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.).
Booker also gave a nod to the trans community during a question about LGBTQ rights later in the debate.
“We don’t talk enough about trans Americans, especially black trans women,” the senator said. He added: “We do not talk enough about violence against black trans Americans, about school bullying. [We] need a president who will protect LGBTQ civil rights every day.”