Senator Orrin Hatch at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, strongly disagreed with controversial remarks made by Ben Carson in which the former presidential candidate appeared to deny that transgender people exist.
Carson, who’s become a major surrogate for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and delivered a speech at the RNC on Tuesday night in which he loosely tied Hillary Clinton to “Lucifer,” told Florida delegates at a breakfast on Monday that transgender identity “doesn’t make any sense” and is “the height of absurdity.” He also stated that “for thousands of years, mankind has known what a man is and what a woman is.”
Carson expanded on his thoughts in an interview with The Hill newspaper, equating transgender identity to changing one’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.’”
When I asked GOP Senator Hatch, a conservative Mormon from Utah, to respond to Carson’s claims in an interview on SiriusXM Progress, he dismissed them outright.
“Of course there are people who are transgender,” he said. “I don’t think they choose to be that way. So, they’re human beings who deserve the best we can give them.”
Hatch then referred to his state’s LGBT anti-discrimination law, passed in 2015, which was criticized by LGBT activists for allowing religious exemptions though it does provide more protections for LGBT people than have ever existed in the deeply red state.
“They’re very difficult issues... very difficult issues to resolve,” Hatch said. “Utah’s done a pretty good job of that and I think our state has set a pretty good example of how you do it. [The passage of the new law] irritated people on both sides, but it was a pretty good compromise. I don’t believe we should discriminate against anyone.”