Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg released a video this week stressing his campaign’s commitment to LGBTQ+ voters, and focusing on “inclusivity” for at-risk youth, including, apparently, youth who identify as trangender.
“I lived in @MikeBloomberg’s New York, and I saw him fight every day for the LGBTQ+ community,” says fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi in a clip posted to both Mizrahi and Bloomberg’s Twitter accounts. “And not just the adults. He fought for the kids who are so vulnerable. We need that kind of compassion in our next president.”
I lived in @MikeBloomberg’s New York, and I saw him fight every day for the LGBTQ+ community. And not just the adults. He fought for the kids who are so vulnerable. We need that kind of compassion in our next president. pic.twitter.com/CgkTMYhxke
— Isaac Mizrahi (@IsaacMizrahi) February 18, 2020
But just as the video was making the rounds on social media, a second video surfaced, this one from just last year, showing a Bloomberg largely hostile to “transgender rights” and, in particular, the right of an individual to use the bathroom of their choice, as associated with their gender identity.
Buzzfeed News reports that, in the video, which has since been removed from social media, Bloomberg appears on a panel for the “Bermuda Business Development Agency,” and is openly hostile to accommodations for transgender individuals — and openly hostile to Democratic candidates making transgender rights a staple of their 2020 presidential campaign platforms.
“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 says in the clip.
Buzzfeed refers to the idea of a man who identifies as female entering a women’s bathroom as a “conservative cliché,” but concern over transgender bathroom rights has driven controversies across the country and across the spectrum. School districts are now wrestling with the idea of allowing male athletes who identify as female compete against and share sports facilities with biologically female athletes, and companies like Target have had to answer to irate shareholders over their own self-selective bathroom policies.
Bloomberg’s point, though, was something many Democrats, who object to a Democratic presidential effort led by a “Democratic socialist” like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have raised as a concern in recent weeks: working class voters in battleground states care more about job security and health care than they do about largely tangential social issues, even if those same tangential social issues are at the forefront for many vocal, social media progressives.
In the video, Bloomberg goes on to put his comments in precisely that context: “And so you can understand where somebody like Trump comes from,” he says. “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.”
A Bloomberg spokesperson added that “Mike understands that the transgender community has been under attack for decades and the advance of rights has not been equal. In April 2002, during his first year as mayor, Mike signed a sweeping transgender civil rights bill into law. His company provides comprehensive health care coverage for his transgender employees. 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 health care and working to end the crisis of violence against transgender women. Mike is running to defeat Donald Trump and reverse the many policies he has implemented that attack the rights of the transgender community.”
Regardless, the video probably won’t play well with Sanders supporters, who are already convinced that Bloomberg is out to use his vast wealth to “steal” the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination from Bernie.