Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf accused Trump campaign adviser Jenna Ellis of hate speech on Monday after she called his transgender health secretary a “guy.”
Ellis, a personal attorney to President Donald Trump and a senior legal adviser to his 2020 campaign, tweeted, “This guy is making decisions about your health,” in reference to PA Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. Her tweet referred to a May story in which Levine corrects a reporter for repeatedly using the word “sir.”
Wolf condemned Ellis in response, tweeting, “To [Ellis] and whoever else needs to hear this: Misgendering a transgender person is hate speech and it’s unacceptable.”
To @JennaEllisEsq and whoever else needs to hear this: Misgendering a transgender person is hate speech and it’s unacceptable.
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) August 10, 2020
In a statement to The Hill, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health said, “Dr. Levine is laser-focused on assisting Pennsylvanians in the midst of a national pandemic. She does not have time for this nonsense.”
Accusing Ellis of bigotry, Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David also attacked the Trump administration. “Jenna Ellis is a bigot and Dr. Levine is a patriot — plain and simple,” he told The Hill. “Dr. Levine illustrates character and patriotism while Ellis cannot even define those terms. Using a person’s pronouns is a basic level of respect. Despite claims of allyship, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and their staff have gone out of their way to dehumanize and attack transgender and non-binary people simply for existing.”
Ellis was unapologetic in the face of such accusations, releasing a statement on Twitter that said neither The Washington Post nor Newsweek were willing to publish in full “in their coverage of the fauxrage.” Ellis wrote:
To be called a bigot for simply acknowledging scientific fact is both hilarious and tragic. The truth of biology shows that human beings are created immutably male and female. Yet in our post-truth society, the progressive leftists not only demand that we affirm patently false facts, but also demand we not ‘offend’ people who insist on speaking their lies, otherwise we are called insensitive bigots and required to apologize. I won’t apologize. Our Constitution still protects our fundamental, God-given right to speak and affirm Truth and I’ll continue to stand firm speaking and affirming Truth.
Pennsylvania officials have taken to Twitter before to scold people who do not acknowledge Levine as a woman. When a fair in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, featured a dunk tank with a man in a dress last month, the Bloomsburg Fair’s Facebook page joked that it was Levine. The joke drew swift condemnation from Wolf, as well as from Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who said, “Hate and bigotry have no place in our society.”
Wolf took flak when he violated his own state’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions on June 3 to march in solidarity with hundreds of protesters in Harrisburg following the death of George Floyd. In Harrisburg’s Dauphin County, gatherings were restricted to 25 people or less at the time, according to Pennsylvania’s color-coded reopening plan.
When pressed on his apparent rule-breaking, Levine said, “The governor has always said that people have the right to protest and to demonstrate, and the right to free speech, and so overall, we want large gatherings such as maybe a party or some type of concert or something, to be under 250 people.”
“But, we are not restricting people’s right to protest,” Levine added. “There are all obviously significant social issues that are present, that people feel that they need to have a voice, and so the governor is always supportive of that and is participating.”
PA Health Sec. won’t allow the state to reopen or people to gather – and the Gov. who said businesses that disobey are cowards as he marches in protests himself – actually tries to legitimize limitless protests in the street while standing by restrictions. pic.twitter.com/4jKwJGBtpG
— Chris Stigall (@ChrisStigall) June 3, 2020