Metro Weekly

Ben Carson compares being transgender to changing ethnicities

Failed GOP presidential candidate says transgender rights are "not a civil rights issue"

Ben Carson - Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Ben Carson – Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr

For thousands of years, mankind has known what a man is and what a woman is. And now all of a sudden, we don’t know anymore. Now, is that the height of absurdity?”

–Failed GOP presidential candidate and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, in a speech before the Florida delegation at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, according to CNN. Carson, who became known for his socially conservative beliefs while on the campaign trail, mocked the concept of transgenderism, using a well-worn trope trotted out by conservatives that transgender people change their identity on a whim: “Because today you feel like a woman, event though everything about you genetically says you’re a man or vice versa?”

Carson also compared being transgender to changing one’s ethnicity, saying: “Wouldn’t that be the same as if you woke up tomorrow morning after seeing a movie about Afghanistan or reading some books and said, ‘You know what? I’m Afghanistan. I know I don’t look that way. My ancestors came from Sweden, or something, I don’t know. But I really am. And if you say I’m not, you’re racist.'”

This is not the first time Carson has gone after the LGBT community. Among other statements, he has said transgender people should be forced to use separate bathrooms, that prisons prove being gay is a choice, and said he believes the United States should reinstitute the ban on LGBT soldiers serving openly.

Echoing earlier comments he’s made about equating gay rights with civil rights, Carson said he’s “disturbed” that some people argue that transgender inequality constitutes “a civil rights issue.”

“Anytime the secular progressives want to get people on their side, they go back to the civil rights movement, and they say this is a civil rights issue and it’s not a civil rights issue,” Carson said. “But we have to be willing to call out people for this absolutely ridiculous stuff that they’re trying to to put over on us, that they’re trying to put over on our children.” 

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at