A transgender reporter this week said that presidential candidate Julian Castro and other Democrats running for president are not woke enough on abortion rights for “trans men,” pointing out that Castro bungled his first few attempts at declaring that transgender individuals deserve abortion rights.
LGBTQ reporter Katelyn Burns wrote in Politico (“I’m Trans. The 2020 Candidates Don’t Know How to Pander to Me.”) that Castro initially botched his attempt to express support for abortion rights for transgender Americans.
“For most of my life as a trans woman, trans people and our issues have been a source of derision. … So when, during the first debate of the 2020 presidential campaign, Julián Castro responded to a question about abortion by saying that all women, including transgender females, deserve access to a full range of reproductive health care options, it should have been a momentous occasion for a trans community that’s long existed in the shadows,” Burns wrote. “There was just one small problem. Castro fumbled his answer.”
Burns explained that Castro, on the national stage, said “trans females” instead of “trans men” should have abortion rights.
“‘Trans females,’ as Castro said, refers to trans women who were assigned male at birth. That’s a demographic that doesn’t need access to abortion care. Trans men and nonbinary people who were assigned female at birth, on the other hand, do need that reproductive health care access. Labeling them as female is considered misgendering. It’s a basic mistake,” Burns said. “Still, a tweet from Castro further muddied the waters. In it, he said that ‘all women,’ including the trans community, deserve reproductive health access. The tweet misgenders every trans man and many nonbinary people—who would not consider themselves ‘women’—who need those services.”
When asked last week if his healthcare plan would include public funding for abortions, the former San Antonio mayor said he believes in “reproductive freedom” and “reproductive justice.” Castro, who was former President Barack Obama’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, then spoke about abortion rights for transgender Americans.
“And, you know, what that means is that just because a woman—or let’s also not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female—is poor, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to exercise that right to choose,” Castro continued.
After the debate, Castro, who has asked questioners at his campaign events which “pronouns” they prefer, declared that “Trans rights are human rights” and eventually clarified his remarks. Castro said he “misspoke” at the debate when he said his healthcare plan would allow “a trans female” to get abortions instead of “trans men.”
“Last night I misspoke – it’s trans men, trans masculine, and non-binary folks who need full access to abortion and repro healthcare. And I’m grateful to ALL trans and non-binary folks for their labor in guiding me on this issue,” Castro clarified the day after the debate. “I’m going to continue to use this platform to uplift the needs of the trans community—not just when talking about reproductive justice—but in many conversations where their needs aren’t always included. More importantly, I’m going to listen. Trans rights are human rights.”
Burns said if someone is not trans, “this discussion about language may seem unfamiliar or not all that important.”
“But it’s crucial to acknowledging our existence and worth, and more important for politicians, for winning trans votes. We’re looking for candidates who know that trans women are women and trans men are men and nonbinary people are nonbinary, and we all have our own political needs, as Castro seemed to want to acknowledge, even if he didn’t get it right,” Burns continued.
Burns added that “trans people in the United States have good reason to be on edge” because “the Trump administration has repeatedly launched attacks on trans rights, including the military ban and a rollback on health care protections and homeless shelter access.”
Burns believes “Trump’s attacks on the community have finally caught the attention of the larger progressive electorate,” and that is why “prominent Democrats” have “often reluctantly,” in Burns’s view, started to integrate “pro-trans stances into speeches and policy proposals” during the 2020 presidential election cycle.
I don’t believe in only reproductive freedom, i believe in reproductive justice. All women — and that includes the trans community — have the right to an abortion. #DemDebate
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) June 27, 2019
I’m going to continue to use this platform to uplift the needs of the trans community—not just when talking about reproductive justice—but in many conversations where their needs aren’t always included. More importantly, I'm going to listen. Trans rights are human rights. (2/2)
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) June 27, 2019