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Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone January 26, 2023

Sen. Josh Hawley didn’t tell professor he refused to use her pronouns

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  • This video shows neither Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., refusing to use a University of California, Berkeley professor’s pronouns, nor her asking him to do so.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley had a tense exchange with a university professor at a Senate hearing last year, but a social media post put words in the Republican’s mouth that he didn’t say.

A caption on a Jan. 22 Facebook post read, "I WILL NOT USE YOUR PRONOUNS Liberal Professor Left SPEECHLESS by Josh Hawley."

The Facebook post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The video shared in the post, as well as the full video available on C-SPAN (the exchange begins at the 2:11:10 mark), shows that Hawley made no such statement, nor was the professor he was speaking with, the University of California, Berkeley’s Khiara Bridges, left speechless. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, which was about abortion access, took place on July 12, 2022, about a month after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to an abortion.

Hawley began his questioning with Bridges, a law professor, asking about her earlier reference to "people with the capacity for pregnancy" and asked whether she meant "women."

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A tense exchange followed, with Bridges calling Hawley’s line of questioning transphobic and saying it could expose transgender people to violence, to which Hawley objected.

Hawley referred to her as Professor Bridges when he started his, and at no point did they discuss pronouns. Bridges did not mention which pronouns she uses when she introduced herself at the hearing, and her faculty profile at Berkeley does not list any preferred pronouns. 

The Facebook video also shares a clip from a separate Sept. 21, 2022, Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, in which Hawley does mention pronouns. But he is not refusing to use anyone’s pronouns.

In that portion of the video, Hawley asks U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Caroline Miller about reports of an email sent to leaders at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam. He said the email "prohibited them from using pronouns or descriptors like he, she, youngest, oldest, male or female."

"Why is that?" Hawley asked.

Miller responded that it wasn’t an official Air Force policy. Hawley accepted her answer and the hearing moved on.

We rate the claim that Hawley told a professor, "I will not use your pronouns" Pants on Fire! 

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Sen. Josh Hawley didn’t tell professor he refused to use her pronouns

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