Expert Witness Reminds GOP Senator John Kennedy He’s Not Tennis Star Serena Williams


During a hearing this week of the Senate Judiciary Committee, panel member Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Kelley Robinson, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, which is an LGBTQ+ rights advocacy organization. Robinson forcefully shut down Kennedy’s arguments that, if taken to their endpoint, would effectively shut transgender individuals out of sports competitions that match their gender identity, though she had to deal with some other BS from Kennedy first.

“And how many genders are there?” Kennedy asked.

“I think that gender is expansive,” Robinson replied. “And the definitions are always growing. Today, I can tell you, I’ve talked to young people that talk about non-binary… I think that gender is not a binary is what I’m trying to say.” Kennedy repeatedly asked Robinson whether her take was that there are more than five genders. The specificity of his question seemed odd and lent towards the impression he wasn’t speaking in good faith, meaning that the net result would have been at least the GOP idea that he’d gotten one over on the LGBTQ+ rights advocate. As Robinson did with Ted Cruz, she was persistent in relaying her answers even through the Senator’s persistent interruptions.

Kennedy asked whether there were more than five genders at least six times. “I wouldn’t subject myself to naming how many genders there are,” Robinson eventually added. “I think depending on your culture, there are a lot of different genders that exist, and I can also say that it’s a term that’s evolving.”

Kennedy then brought up issues of ostensible differences in physical performance between males and females, which was related to discussions Republicans have been having about transgender women and girls competing in women and girls’ sports leagues. Kennedy’s questions ignored the physical effects that transition can have for transgender individuals making their physical bodies more closely match their gender identity and the variation already found within groups ordinarily known as male and female.

Robinson eventually provided an incisive answer to Kennedy’s insistence that those assigned male at birth have an instant advantage over female individuals. “What I am trying to say is that there is not a definitive advantage in all cases,” she said. “Sir, I don’t know if you believe that you could beat Serena Williams in tennis, but I probably think that that’s not the case. There are not all cases where all men are physically superior to all women.”

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