Watch: Mother Tearfully Confronts Mike Pence Over Transgender Rights
Emell Adolphus READ TIME: 3 MIN.
Former Vice President Mike Pence was put on blast during a NewsNation town hall on Wednesday. As reported by the Independent, Pence was tearfully confronted by a mother of a transgender child and forced to make sense of his anti-LGBT+ stances.
At the town hall, Pence said that he would "protect our kids from that radical gender ideology that's taken hold in too many public schools" if he is elected president.
Melissa McCollister, a professor of social work in Iowa, had a retort he seemingly did not expect.
"I am an LGBTQ member and I have trans individuals in my family. Recent anti-LGBTQ bills have been signed into law all around the United States, including here in Iowa," she explained. "So far, in 2023, 15 transgender individuals and gender-nonconforming people have been murdered."
McCollister added that the majority of those affected have been Black and Latinx transgender women. And so she asked, "What is your policy plan to protect the transgender community, specifically Black and brown trans women from historically high levels of violence?"
Pence responded with a talking point about protecting every American, "whether that squares with my values or not."
He added, "I'm a Bible-believing Christian. I have particular views of these matters and you have a different view of those, perhaps, but I want you to know I believe in the freedom of religion, I believe in the freedom of conscience, I believe in the right of every American to live, to work, to worship according to the dictates of their conscience and I'll respect that. But I hope you also hear my heart on this."
He went on to reason that what adults do "is one thing, but for kids under the age of 18 – there's a reason why we don't let you drive 'til you're 16."
He added, "When it comes to surgical or chemical procedures, I just– I really believe that we've got to protect our kids from decisions that will affect them the balance of their lives, while at the same time saying adults can make decisions according to the dictates of their own conscience," Mr Pence concluded.
Moderator Leland Vittert asked: "Melissa, do you understand the vice president's idea that there is a difference between how adults conduct their lives and make decisions and that of how kids do?"
"Absolutely," McCollister replied. "I am a social worker. I've been in this profession for 25 years. I have worked with kids most of my profession. I started an LGBTQ youth program in my own hometown, I started one in Terre Haute, Indiana, where I was threatened with KKK and Xs on my doorstep, and that was in 2020."
McCollister added, "And so to hear somebody tell me that it's not okay for young children to make decisions about their gender identity and to ask their school officials for support, protection, and help is appalling."
In response, Pence mechanically doubled down on his views.
"Having been married to an elementary school teacher for all these years, I just think we gotta protect our kids," he said. "The idea that we are telling young and impressionable kids...that little boys can become girls or little girls that they can become boys, I just think is wrong."
See the complete exchange below.