CNN Experts Insist Conservatives Don't See Transgenders As 'Human Beings'

In reaction to Bruce Jenner's transition and Mike Huckabee’s controversial comments on transgenderism and gender-neutral bathrooms, a panel of CNN experts ripped the former Arkansas governor for his supposed insensitivity. The June 2 edition of OutFront featured Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon and HLN host Dr. Drew Pinsky, and they both lambasted Huckabee repeatedly by insinuating that he doesn’t view transgender people as human beings. 

Pinsky asserted that Huckabee’s comments have now “bled over into misogyny and sexism in the course of his being insensitive on these issues.” He added, “[t]he fact is that there’s a human being here, these are human beings that deserve sensitive care and the best possible care by experts, not attack by their politicians.” Avlon simply reiterated Pinsky’s point and argued that Huckabee was making these comments to get laughs: 

I think the problem with this sound bite is that he's clearly using it as a laugh line. And as Dr. Drew said, you are dealing with real human beings here and you don't like to see politicians divide and ridicule for political gain or simply to play to the base. The larger point, of course, is that we’re undergoing a sea change in this country in a gay civil rights moment that a lot – the majority of Americans now support marriage, something that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. 

After Burnett played a clip in which Huckabee explained the possible dangers of having gender-neutral bathrooms, Pinsky implied that the 2016 presidential candidate doesn’t really understand the issue: 

Look, they're confusing gender identity with sexual orientation. He's not helping the process. As we're saying, there's a cultural moment here when these issues are coming to the fore. People want to be sensitive, they want to get their head around – they want to understand this. And this sounds very much like the kind of, sort of, frankly knuckleheaded notions that people had about gays and lesbians not that long ago. And this is the same phenomenon. Should we not allow a gay man into a man's room either, Mr. Huckabee, is that also what you're saying? I mean, for goodness sake. 

Burnett – seemingly in wholehearted agreement with the HLN doctor – suggested that Huckabee thinks “ if you're transgender or gay, right, that you're somehow some sort of a predator.” Pinsky agreed and noted that Huckabee’s rhetoric “is being used for political gain, and it’s actually harming people.” 

The relevant portion of the transcript is below. 

CNN
OutFront with Erin Burnett
June 2, 2015
7:29 p.m. Eastern

ERIN BURNETT: OutFront tonight, HLN host Dr. Drew Pinsky and editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast and CNN political analyst, John Avlon. Dr. Drew, let me start with you. Mike Huckabee is running for president. He's calling the move towards transgender equality a quote unquote ‘social experiment’ that he thinks is inherently wrong. 

DR. DREW PINKSY: Well, look, he's entitled to his opinion, but it's insensitive. He's now bled over into misogyny and sexism in the course of his being insensitive to these issues. And whether or not it’s a social experiment, whether or not psychologists and psychiatrists have this wrong, listen, he's not the one to say. The fact is there's a human being here, these are human beings that deserve sensitive care and the best possible care by experts, not attack by their politicians. 

BURNETT: So, John, when you hear Huckabee, who is running for president, right, who specifically is talking about allowing people and children to use whatever bathroom they think corresponds to their gender identity as opposed to the gender identity others might perceive them as having. You know, look, he’s said this kind of thing before. He said it a couple months ago, he said it back in 2013. This is clearly what he believes. What do you think about it? 

JOHN AVLON, Daily Beast: It clearly is what he believes and I think he’s out of step with this particular cultural moment, but that’s not surprising for someone who’s a committed social conservative. I think the problem with this sound bite is that he's clearly using it as a laugh line. And as Dr. Drew said, you are dealing with real human beings here and you don't like to see politicians divide and ridicule for political gain or simply to play to the base. The larger point, of course, is that we’re undergoing a sea change in this country in a gay civil rights moment that a lot – the majority of Americans now support marriage, something that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. And Bruce Jenner coming out as a transgender, as Caitlyn Jenner, is a new teachable moment that’s very powerful culturally, but going to be challenging for a lot of these folks. And for him to try to demagogue it for laughs I think is needlessly divisive. 

BURNETT: And Dr. Drew, I want to play something else that Huckabee said. Let me just play it so you can actually hear it from his own mouth. 

MIKE HUCKABEE: For those who do not think that we are under threat, simply recognize that the fact that we are now in – city after city watching ordinances that say that your 7-year-old daughter, if she goes into the restroom, cannot be offended and you can’t be offended if she’s greeted there by a 42-year-old man who feels more like a woman than he does a man. 

BURNETT: Dr. Drew, some people might hear that and think there's something to that. Is this a point people should take seriously? 

PINSKY: Let's not – there’s confusion everywhere on these issues. Look, they're confusing gender identity with sexual orientation. He's not helping the process. As we're saying, there's a cultural moment here when these issues are coming to the fore. People want to be sensitive, they want to get their head around – they want to understand this. And this sounds very much like the kind of, sort of, frankly knuckle headed notions that people had about gays and lesbians not that long ago. And this is the same phenomenon. Should we not allow a gay man into a man's room either, Mr. Huckabee, is that also what you're saying? I mean, for goodness sake. 

BURNETT: Right. He’s essentially saying if you're transgender or gay, right, that you're somehow some sort of a predator.

PINSKY: You’re a predator. Exactly. You’re a predator – somebody who is going to act out on children. Just simply no relationship amongst these various things and it's being used – as we’re saying here, it’s being used as a joke, it’s being used  for political gain, and it's actually harming people. 

Transgender Sexuality CNN Erin Burnett OutFront John Avlon Erin Burnett Bruce Jenner

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