An Arkansas state senator faced criticism and calls for his resignation after asking a transgender pharmacist if she had a penis during a committee hearing on a bill that would prohibit doctors in the state from providing gender-affirming treatments to transgender minors.
The incident occurred when pharmacist and transgender woman, Grayson Lively, spoke at the hearing in opposition to the bill, which she argued would harm transgender youth and limit their access to vital medical care. During her testimony, Senator Charles Beckham III, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, asked Lively whether she was a male or female.
Lively responded that she was a woman, but Beckham persisted with his line of questioning, asking, “So, you’re saying that you’re a woman, dressed as a woman?” He then followed up with, “Have you had or do you have a penis?”
LGBTQ advocates immediately condemned Beckham’s comments as “disrespectful and inappropriate”, accusing him of trying to humiliate and degrade Lively. They also criticized the proposed bill, arguing that it would infringe on the rights of transgender minors to make decisions about their own bodies and could lead to increased rates of suicide and self-harm.
Beckham later issued an apology for his comments, stating that he had not intended to offend anyone and that he respected Lively’s right to testify. He also said that his questions were an attempt to understand the issues and did not reflect any personal animosity towards Lively or transgender people in general.
However, his apology did little to assuage the outrage of LGBTQ advocates, who called for his resignation and accused him of perpetuating harmful stereotypes about transgender people. They also criticized the proposed bill, arguing that it would harm vulnerable young people who are already marginalized and face high rates of discrimination and violence.
The incident has drawn attention to the ongoing debate over transgender rights and the challenges faced by transgender people in accessing healthcare and other services. It also highlights the importance of creating a more inclusive and accepting society that respects the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or expression.