Arkansas State Sen. Matt McKee (R) this week questioned a transgender pharmacist, asking during the Judiciary Committee hearing if the biological man had a penis, prompting freakouts across the media sphere.
The Little Rock pharmacist, Gwendolyn Herzig, appeared before the Judiciary Committee to testify against SB199, the purpose of which is to protect minors from procedures designed to transition to a different gender — a biological impossibility. But McKee made waves after asking Herzig to reveal how far the transgender woman has gone in his transition.
“You said that you’re a trans woman?” McKee asked.
Herzig affirmed he considered himself a trans female, prompting the senator to follow up.
“Do you have a penis?” he asked, triggering audible anger from others in the room.
Herzig paused and looked at the senator, replying, “That is horrible.”
“You’re the one that brought that into the discussion,” the senator replied:
Herzig, a man who believes he is a woman, told the lawmaker, “I don’t know what my rights are, but that question was highly inappropriate.”
“I’m a healthcare professional, a doctor,” Herzig added. “Please treat me as such. Next question, please.”
The question garnered attention throughout the media as many expressed their outrage and disgust.
“Republicans are not hiding their transphobia. TODAY in the Judiciary Committee, one Senator asked a doctor if she ‘has a penis’ and another claimed that gender affirming care was a TikTok plot from China,” the Democrat Party of Arkansas asserted, blasting the measure at the center of the controversy, which passed through committee this week. The measure itself stops doctors from performing transgender surgeries on minors or treating them with hormones — cross-sex hormones or puberty blockers, per the legislation — to “affirm” their chosen gender, as it allows victims of these so-called “treatments” to sue once they hit adulthood for up to 30 years:
Republicans are not hiding their transphobia.
TODAY in the Judiciary Committee, one Senator asked a doctor if she “has a penis” and another claimed that gender affirming care was a TikTok plot from China.
Then, they passed #SB199 to create malpractice law for life saving care. pic.twitter.com/kvllGCcwnX
— Democratic Party of Arkansas (@ArkDems) February 13, 2023
On social media, Fox News described the back and forth as a “shocking exchange,” while NBC News spoke to Herzig, who described it as “probably the most publicly humiliating thing I’ve ever gone through.”
Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, described the exchange as “absolutely sickening.” Business Insider also published a piece on the topic, describing it as a GOP lawmaker asking a “transgender pharmacist about her genitalia during a bill hearing.”
The outlet also spoke to Herzig, who told Insider, “I kind of just like froze because I was just trying to process what just happened. I’m like, ‘How do I even respond to that?’”
Herzig told the outlet that the exchange was “just horrifying” and dehumanizing.
“I felt like I had a lot of knowledge and a lot of lived experience I could have shared and hopefully opened up some eyes,” he told Insider. “But they weren’t even interested in hearing that. They just wanted to make a very gross and inappropriate comment.”
The LGBTQ+ media brand PinkNews also covered the story, highlighting Herzig’s essay in the Independent, in which he asserts the exchange was “utterly mortifying.”
Herzig wrote in part:
In a room full of people, being streamed and broadcast, I was testifying before our elected senators when my lived experience, community outreach, doctoral degree, and most importantly my humanity, was reduced to a single body part. I did not answer. I asked for my rights, demanded decency, and said I would continue with the next question. There were no more questions for me. I went back to my seat, determined to show solidarity while fighting back the tears in my eyes.
Others covered the exchange as well:
???Republicans no longer hiding their transphobia.
Arkansas State senator Matt McKee asked a #transgender woman during a legislative hearing if she had a penis? ?️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/mSQbYv81HB
— Terror Alarm (@Terror_Alarm) February 15, 2023
Republican Arkansas state Sen. Matt McKee asks a transgender pharmacist if she has a penis.
The reaction says it all. pic.twitter.com/u6VkOQGMh5
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) February 15, 2023
Arkansas Senator Matt McKee’s questions to a transgender physician brought audible gasps and outrage on the senate judiciary floor. https://t.co/CXpLsNioEP
— Radar Online (@radar_online) February 15, 2023
‘I am a transgender doctor. What happened to me in front of the Arkansas senate was utterly mortifying
The crusade to vilify those who just want to live life as their authentic self is baffling,’ writes Gwendolyn Herzig
— Socialist Voice ⭑ (@SocialistVoice) February 16, 2023
Notably, during an appearance on The Transgender Show mere weeks ago, Herzig publicly discussed his desire to get genital reconstructive surgery (GRS).
“For me personally, GRS is the biggest one I want. I don’t know, personal preference,” Herzig said.