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Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg last year referred to transgender people as “he, she, or it” and “some guy wearing a dress” while suggesting Democratic candidates shouldn’t openly support transgender rights.
Buzzfeed News unearthed comments by Bloomberg during an appearance at an event hosted by the Bermuda Business Development Agency in March 2019.
“If your conversation during a presidential election is about some guy wearing a dress and whether he, she, or it can go to the locker room with their daughter, that’s not a winning formula for most people,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg suggested that Democrats should refrain from voicing their support for transgender issues in order to appeal to Middle America, and that doing so in 2016 helped secure Donald Trump’s victory.
“You can understand where somebody like Trump comes from,” he said. “You can understand when you look at the Democratic Party, they are so far left that two years ago there was nobody on their side who would take these positions, and today virtually all the candidates for president of the Democratic Party are so progressive. I don’t know what progressive means.”
Buzzfeed reached out to Bloomberg’s campaign, which issued a statement defending his political record on transgender issues, but ignored the comments made at last year’s event.
The Human Rights Campaign is now calling on Bloomberg to apologize for the comments, saying “words matter.”
“Transgender women aren’t ‘he-she or it’, they’re women. LGBTQ people are human and deserve to be treated with respect,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement.
He added: “Words matter and Mayor Bloomberg should apologize for using language that demoralizes and dehumanizes members of our community.”
Bloomberg has been heavily criticized for the comments on social media.
Charlotte Clymer, rapid response press secretary at the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted that she was “heartbroken and infuriated that @MikeBloomberg felt it appropriate to refer to trans people as ‘it’ and trans women as ‘men in dresses.'”
Clymer added: “These latest comments were less than a year ago. It is disturbing that a leading Democratic presidential candidate would casually dehumanize trans people and degrade our existence.”
Jess Phoenix, co-founder and executive director of environmental scientific research organization Blueprint Earth, tweeted that “attitudes like Bloomberg’s display a stunning ignorance of how many gender non-conforming folks live all over our country [and] across the world. Update your understanding. No one gets left out of human rights.”
Megan Murphy, former editor of Bloomberg Businessweek, tweeted that she was “outraged” over Bloomberg’s comments.
“As the proud aunt of a transgender niece, and having fought for years against the abuse directed at this community, this rhetoric causes real world harm,” she wrote. “Trans rights are human rights. Period.”
The news comes just a couple of weeks after Bloomberg was found to have made similar transphobic comments during an appearance at Oxford University in 2016.
As reported by NBC News, Bloomberg said that openly supporting transgender rights was toxic at the voting booth in Middle America.
Bloomberg argued that the attendees of the event were “the intelligentsia” and said a divide existed between them and “the vast bulk of people” over “equality and protecting individual rights.”
“They are not opposed to you having some rights, but there’s a fundamental disconnect between us believing the rights of the individual come first and the general belief around the world, I think it’s fair to say, that the rights of society comes first,” Bloomberg said.
“If you want to know if somebody is a good salesman, give him the job of going to the Midwest and picking a town and selling to that town the concept that some man wearing a dress should be in a locker room with their daughter,” he continued. “If you can sell that, you can sell anything. They just look at you and they say, ‘What on Earth are you talking about?'”
Here's @MikeBloomberg in December 2016 at Oxford explaining how trans rights simply won't fly in the midwest because only the "intelligentsia" can understand why "some man wearing a dress should be in a locker room with their daughter." pic.twitter.com/g6aa8aB1jq
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) February 6, 2020
Bloomberg’s campaign issued a similar response, telling NBC News that he is “running to defeat Donald Trump and reverse the many policies he has implemented that attack the rights of the transgender community,” but refraining from directly discussing Bloomberg’s comments.
His comments on transgender issues run counter to Bloomberg’s campaign proposals for LGBTQ people.
His LGBTQ equality plan promises to “reverse President Trump’s attacks on LGBTQ+ Americans, resume the march towards equal rights and protections in every part of the country, and restore America’s leadership in the global fight for LGBTQ+ equality.”
And in a campaign video released the same day as Buzzfeed reported Bloomberg’s anti-trans comments, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi says that the former New York mayor supports LGBTQ “inclusivity” and is “so incredibly sensitive to this issue.”
“There is no one more perfect than Mike,” Mizrahi concludes.
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