Politico

Ben Carson defends transgender remarks, blames media 'mischaracterizations'

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson defended his comments about transgender people this week in an agency-wide email late Friday afternoon, calling press reports of the remarks “blatant mischaracterizations.”

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Carson had expressed concern in a meeting in California about “big, hairy men” trying to use women’s bathrooms, citing “three people present who interpreted the remarks as an attack on transgender women.” A leading LGBTQ advocacy group denounced Carson for the comments.

Carson conceded that he had said those words but disputed the context in the note to staff, according to a copy of the email obtained by POLITICO.

“During a recent meeting with local staff in San Francisco, I made reference to the fact that I had heard from many women’s groups about the difficulty they were having with women’s shelters because sometimes men would claim to be women,” Carson wrote.

“This made many of the women feel unsafe, and one of the groups described a situation to me in which ‘big hairy men’ would come in and have to be accepted into the women’s shelter even though it made the women in the facility very uncomfortable,” he added.

“My point was that we have to permit policies that take into consideration the rights of everybody, including those women,” Carson wrote.

HUD earlier this year floated a proposal to allow HUD-subsidized homeless shelters to consider a person’s sex or gender identification in determining whether they can be admitted.

“Our society is in danger when we pick one issue (such as gender identity) and say it does not matter how it impacts others because this one issue should override every other common-sense consideration,” Carson wrote Friday, adding, “we must always be vigilant not to override the common sense of our fellow Americans.”

The Human Rights Campaign earlier slammed Carson for the remarks: “It is hardly surprising that Ben Carson would blatantly dehumanize trans people in his official capacity,” HRC President Alphonso David said late Thursday.

Carson appeared to take umbrage at the uproar, writing, “My belief system tells me that all people are valuable, and we should recognize and try to cultivate dignity.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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