Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s efforts to present a united political front appeared to hit a slight speed bump when they were asked about transgender issues.
The mother-daughter duo faced an awkward moment when they were asked about the topic of transgender self-identification during an interview with The Sunday Times. Journalist Decca Aitkenhead asked the pair if a person with a beard and a penis could ever be a woman.
The question was met with an unqualified “yes” from Chelsea while her mother reportedly appeared more “uneasy” with the topic.
“Errr. I’m just learning about this,” the failed Democratic presidential candidate said. “It’s a very big generational discussion, because this is not something I grew up with or ever saw. It’s going to take a lot more time and effort to understand what it means to be defining yourself differently.”
Although they said that they do not argue about transgender identity issues, the topic seemed to reportedly raise the tension in the room as Aitkenhead interviewed the Clintons about their new book, “The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience.” The newly released work features a look at Danica Roem, the first openly transgender woman elected to a U.S. state legislature.
Aitkenhead pointed out to the 71-year-old former first lady, senator and secretary of state that many British feminists of her generation take issue with the idea that a “lesbian who doesn’t want to sleep with someone who has a penis is transphobic.”
The journalist noted that although Hillary Clinton nodded in agreement, her daughter “stiffens and stares at me.” She pressed on, however, telling the elder Clinton that many women of her generation are also not comfortable with biological males sharing women’s bathrooms.
“I would say that, absolutely,” she agreed. “Absolutely. Yes.”
But Chelsea apparently responded by throwing the journalist a “furious stare,” which Aitkenhead pointed out to her.
“I’m a terrible actor,” the 39-year-old former first daughter laughed.
She went on to express her agreement with the U.K.’s National Health Service and its decision to use gender identity rather than biological sex in determining where to place patients in single-sex wards.
“How can you treat someone if you don’t recognize who they feel and know in their core they are?” she asked. “And I strongly support children being able to play on the sports teams that match their own gender identity. I think we need to be doing everything we can to support kids in being whoever they know themselves to be and discovering who they are.”
But the exchange left Hillary appearing unsure, according to Aitkenhead.
“I think you’ve got to be sensitive to how difficult this is,” the failed presidential candidate said. “There are women who’d say [to a trans woman], ‘You know what, you’ve never had the kind of life experiences that I’ve had. So I respect who you are, but don’t tell me you’re the same as me.’ I hear that conversation all the time.”
Aitkenhead noted the tension in the room during the exchange.
“I get the impression they don’t like to present anything less than a united front to the world,” she said about the Clintons.
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