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Define ‘Woman’

The new ‘gotcha’ phrase by transphobes — and a full answer

Cassie Brighter
Published in
16 min readApr 2, 2022

A few days ago there was an odd moment in the hearings to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as a Supreme Justice. She was asked to define “Woman.” It was a clearly rehearsed, strategic question to elicit a bad outcome for the Judge. It was meant to hit the media as a sound clip: These crazy libtards can’t even define “woman.” Predictably, Tucker Carlson did a whole number with this.

Here’s the clip:

I think the strategy worked. The way Marsha Blackburn framed it was insidiously clever. While the Judge responded with a reasoned, accurate answer, this moment delivered the ingredients which people like Tucker Carlson could then cook up into the following premise:
“The Right asks a basic, simple question — ‘what is a woman.’ The Left can’t even provide a simple answer.”

It works.
And also, it’s a fallacy.

Fallacies are disingenuous arguments meant to bias a debate. The question is a “gotcha” question — it creates a framework that predisposes a good outcome for your side, and puts the opposing side in a position where ANY answer from the opposing side leads to a bad outcome for them.

Loaded questions are often inflammatory in nature, making them an effective way to derail an otherwise rational debate, as the recipient may be quick to become defensive.

The Judge did right in providing a rational response. However, this is what I would’ve said — have said — in answer to this question.

Definitions evolve over time, context and purpose

Definitions evolve over time. “Car” used to mean a wooden carriage pulled by a horse. Nowadays it means a metal machine pulled by its own engine. Language evolves. Also, words can have several definitions depending on context, circumstance, and intended purpose.

If you ask for a current definition, in some contexts it just means “vehicle” (your ride, your wheels). In some other contexts “car” means a specific set or…



Cassie Brighter
Writer for

Activist. Public speaker. Writer. Community Organizer. Mom. Creator & Host, Empowered Trans Woman Summit. Managing Editor,