- An Arkansas GOP lawmaker asked a transgender pharmacist about her genitalia during a bill hearing.
- The question from state Sen. Matt McKee drew loud boos from those in attendance.
- “That’s horrible,” Gwendolyn Herzig replied when McKee asked her, “Do you have a penis?”
An Arkansas GOP lawmaker asked a transgender pharmacist about her genitalia during a state legislative committee hearing about an anti-trans bill this week, drawing loud boos from a crowd in attendance and leaving the healthcare professional feeling “dehumanized,” she told Insider.
The Monday hearing over Senate Bill 199 — which would allow doctors to be sued for malpractice for performing gender-affirming care on minors for up to 30 years after the patient turns 18 — devolved into chaos after state Sen. Matt McKee asked pharmacist Gwendolyn Herzig, a transgender woman, “Do you have a penis?”
“You said that you’re a trans woman?” McKee asked Herzig, who was testifying against the bill at the time, prompting her to respond, “A trans female, yes sir.”
That’s when McKee then asked Herzig about her genitalia, causing people seated in the room to throw up their hands, boo, and shout out “disgraceful” and “shameful,” according to a video posted to Twitter.
—Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) February 13, 2023
A visibly stunned Herzig then responded, “That’s horrible.”
“You’re the one that brought that into the discussion,” McKee told Herzig, who shot back: “I never said anything about genitalia.”
“I don’t know what my rights are right now,” Herzig added. “But that question was highly inappropriate.”
Republican state Sen. Terry Rice then interjected, telling Herzig that she did not have to answer the question and noted, “If you’re through, we’ll dismiss you.”
“I’m not through with questions, but I’m not going to answer that question. That’s highly inappropriate,” Herzig said. “I’m a healthcare professional, a doctor. Please treat me as such. Next question, please.”
Herzig told Insider on Wednesday that she felt “shock” and “disgust” when McKee asked about her genitalia.
“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?'” said Herzig, who called the ordeal “just horrifying.”
Herzig said that she expected to be “treated with professionalism” during the hearing, but instead, she said she was “torn down” and “dehumanized.”
“It didn’t matter my professional stance or who I am as a person, to be just kind of downgraded to my genitals was pretty horrifying,” Herzig said.
Herzig continued, “It was just really a loss for our state.”
“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,” she told Insider. “But they weren’t even interested in hearing that. They just wanted to make a very gross and inappropriate comment.”
McKee’s shocking question came after Herzig said in testimony that one of the greatest hurdles transgender people endure is a lack of empathy, the Associated Press reported.
“Bills like SB199 are designed to hinder, not help, Arkansans,” Herzig said, according to the news outlet.
McKee did not immediately respond to requests for comment by Insider on Wednesday.