Ben Carson, the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, lashed out at political correctness on Tuesday and claimed that it was “going to destroy our nation.” This came after being pressed about remarks he had reportedly made about transgender people during a meeting last month.
Carson denied that he was speaking about transgender people when Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) asked him during a congressional hearing about whether he wanted to apologize for expressing concern about “big, hairy men” trying to gain access to women’s homeless shelters.
The reported comments, which were made at a HUD meeting in San Francisco last month, were interpreted by a number of people in attendance as directed at transgender people, according to a September Washington Post report.
“You don’t feel the need to apologize for those comments?” Wexton asked during the House Financial Services Committee hearing.
“No,” Carson responded. “I think this whole concept of political correctness — ‘You can say this. You can’t say that. You can’t repeat what someone said’ — is total foolishness and is going to destroy our nation.”
Carson added that he never described transgender people in such a way.
“I was relating a story that a women’s group told me about big, hairy men — who are not transgender women, by the way — coming into their facility and having to be accepted because of the rules that were in place,” Carson said. He added that he could not remember the name of the group that told him the story.
Wexton expressed disappointment with Carson’s response following the hearing, saying on Twitter that “hateful words translate into discriminatory policy—and Secretary Carson has demonstrated that time and again.”
The Post, citing three anonymous sources, reported in mid-September that Carson surprised many HUD officials with his comments about “big, hairy men” during a meeting. Two agency staffers also said Carson complained about society no longer understanding gender roles.
At least one HUD staffer reportedly walked out in protest amid the meeting.
“The Secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false,” an HUD senior official said in a statement to the Post at the time.
Earlier this year, HUD introduced a policy that would greatly weaken Obama-era protections granted to homeless transgender women and men. The policy, among other things, would allow federally funded shelters to turn people away on religious grounds.
Wexton in May introduced a bill to block the rule from becoming policy.
“This is incredibly dangerous,” Wexton said in June during a House hearing. “The consequences of being turned away from shelter can be dire.
Credit: The Hill