Michael Bloomberg has issued an official apology for past insensitive remarks about transgender people.
The former New York City mayor, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, had publicly called trans people “it” less than a year ago, after having said in 2016 that most Americans don’t want “some man wearing a dress … in the locker room with their daughter.”
He released a statement of apology to the media Thursday after having a private meeting with transgender activists and allies. “Today, I spoke with leaders from the transgender community and have heard from elected officials like Mayor London Breed, and I understand that my words had caused hurt,” he said. (Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, is a cisgender woman but has a large trans constituency.)
“It was a poor attempt to describe how some who oppose transgender equality think about this issue — and those words do not reflect my unwavering support for equality for transgender Americans,” he continued. “I want to offer my sincerest apologies to the members of the transgender community. Given the ongoing violence that the trans community faces, including the recent killing of Alexa Ruiz in Puerto Rico, we need a president who will set the moral compass to ensure safety, respect and dignity for all trans people. As mayor, I signed a sweeping transgender civil rights bill and, as president, will promote policies that advance equality for transgender Americans who have been attacked by the Trump administration over the past three years.”
Bloomberg had mentioned violence against trans people in a commentary for The Advocate early this month on his LGBTQ platform. We “need a president who will no longer turn a blind eye to the horrifying number of transgender people who have been attacked or killed in this country — especially young transgender women of color,” he wrote.
Bloomberg has yet to be on a ballot in a Democratic primary or caucus. He will not be on the ballot in the South Carolina primary Saturday, but his name will appear on ballots next week on Super Tuesday, when voters in 14 states and one territory, along with Democrats living abroad, will register their presidential preferences.
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, who last week called on Bloomberg to“apologize for using language that demoralizes and dehumanizes members of our community,” reacted to the apology with this statement:
“The Human Rights Campaign called on Mayor Bloomberg to apologize, and we are glad that he did. He took the time to engage members of the transgender community and it is heartening that he has realized his comments were unacceptable. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all members of our community, particularly the most marginalized members, are treated with dignity and respect. Today, Mayor Bloomberg and his campaign rededicated themselves to pursuing a more inclusive future for the LGBTQ community, and for transgender people specifically.
“Our focus, alongside all the pro-equality candidates, remains on mobilizing the 57 million Equality Voters around the country to defeat Donald Trump and Mike Pence and reverse their administration’s many attacks on our community.”