Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg made bold promises to LGBTQ Americans last week in a series of policy proposals. But it’s comments he made four years ago that have many queer people talking today.
In a video from 2016 that resurfaced on Twitter Thursday, the Democratic presidential hopeful is seen at Oxford University comparing transgender women to “men in dresses,” and stating that transgender people cannot be housed in prisons that correspond with their lived genders.
The comments were made in response to a question about Brexit and the difficulties of getting people to agree on controversial issues, according to his campaign.
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
“If you want to know is somebody a good salesman, give them 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 the locker room with their daughter,” he said.
“If you can sell that, you can sell anything,” he continued. “They just look at you and they say, ’What on earth are you talking about?’ And you just say, ’Well, this person identifies her gender as different than what’s on her birth certificate.’ And you say, ’What do you mean? You’re either born this or you’re born that.’”
In the clip, Bloomberg goes on to say that trans women in NYC are never imprisoned according their gender identity.
“I will say in our prison system in New York City, we have to have the policy when you walk in, you know, drop your trousers, you go this way, you go this way, you go that way,” he said. “And that’s it because you can’t sit there and you can’t mix things in a jail. That’s a practical case where you have to make a decision.”
Bloomberg’s prison comments from 2016 misunderstand federal law and contradict statements given to NewNowNext by his campaign just last week, when spokespeople for his team indicated that the former mayor would reverse the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era guidelines for treatment of trans people at federal prisons.
The U.S. Prison Rape Elimination Act requires jails and prisons to house transgender people on a case-by-case basis, interviewing them upon intake and every six months about where they feel safest.
This is disqualifying. https://t.co/t0bugSlNJ5
— Katelyn Burns (@transscribe) February 6, 2020
In a statement provided to NewNowNext, a rep for the Bloomberg campaign said that the former mayor understands that transgender people have been under attack for decades, and that the advance of rights for this community have not been equal.
His campaign pointed out that during his tenure as mayor, Bloomberg signed a bill affirming nondiscrimination protections for trans and gender nonconforming New Yorkers.
“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 Bloomberg campaign added. “Mike is running to defeat Donald Trump and reverse the many policies he has implemented that attack the rights of the transgender community.”