Bloomberg should apologize for comments about transgender people, Human Rights Campaign says

“Words matter and Mayor Bloomberg should apologize for using language that demoralizes and dehumanizes members of our community," the group said.
Image: Mike Bloomberg speaks at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York in 2018.
Mike Bloomberg speaks at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York in 2018.Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Robin Hood file

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By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ civil rights group, is calling on former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to apologize for comments that he made last year about transgender people.

In 2019, Bloomberg called people who identify as transgender “it” and “some guy wearing a dress” who enters locker rooms, according to video that was first reported by BuzzFeed News on Tuesday and verified by NBC News.

“Transgender women aren’t “he-she or it”, they’re women. LGBTQ people are human and deserve to be treated with respect,” said HRC President Alphonso David in a statement Tuesday.

“Words matter and Mayor Bloomberg should apologize for using language that demoralizes and dehumanizes members of our community,” he added.

In response to the video, Bloomberg’s campaign said that the former mayor was describing how others might view transgender people, not how he viewed them.

A campaign spokesperson said in a statement that Bloomberg understands that the transgender community has been under attack for decades and said that as mayor of New York, he signed a sweeping transgender civil rights bill into law.

“As president, he has a comprehensive plan to secure rights for transgender Americans, including passing the Equality Act, ensuring transgender people have access to affirming healthcare and working to end the crisis of violence against transgender women,” the spokesperson said.

Tuesday's video comes only a few weeks after another video from 2016 resurfaced that showed Bloomberg at an event at the University of Oxford in England using the phrase, “man in a dress,” to describe a hypothetical transgender woman. After that video re-emerged, a campaign aide put out a similar statement highlighting the bill he signed in 2002.

Bloomberg has been climbing in polls of the Democratic presidential race recently and will appear in his first presidential debate facing other top candidates on Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

Josh Lederman and Maura Barrett contributed.