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Mike Huckabee’s creepy transgender ‘joke’

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Mike Huckabee made crass comments that were insulting to transgender people, Sally Kohn says

She says political figures should either know transgender issues better or keep their mouths shut

Editor’s Note: Sally Kohn is an activist, columnist and television commentator. Follow her on Twitter: @sallykohn. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

CNN —  

Apparently, Caitlyn Jenner is a Republican. But maybe not for long, especially if Mike Huckabee keeps opening his mouth.

In comments this past February that were made more widely available this week, the former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate said, “I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE.”

Huckabee went on, “I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.’ “

Sally Kohn
Sally Kohn

Huckabee’s comments are not only crass but insulting. Even if he wants to dismiss the basic dignity and rights of transgender Americans, he could at least get his facts straight: Gender identity has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Is Huckabee aware that transgender youths are subject to intense levels of bullying and harassment in school and that more than half of these kids who were bullied in school have attempted suicide? Does Huckabee realize that 13 transgender women were murdered in 2014 alone? Does he know that transgender Americans experience poverty at four times the national average, due to employment discrimination and the costs associated with gender transition, combined with a lack of health care coverage? Does Huckabee think it’s fun to belittle these people for the sake of juvenile humor?

Most Americans can be forgiven for not knowing much about the lives of transgender men and women. As more public figures like Jenner come out as trans, and as more of our friends and loved ones do the same, we will hopefully have the opportunity to become more informed, more compassionate and more open-minded.

Political figures like Huckabee should be held to a higher standard of either informing themselves on such an important issue or keeping their mouths shut.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki, a recent addition to the GOP presidential field, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “We should give people their dignity and let them make their own decisions. If someone chooses a path that’s different than mine, we should respect it as opposed to mocking it or in any way trying to prevent that.” There, that wasn’t that hard, right? To show that as president you would respect all Americans equally? Even Rick Santorum managed to eke out an expression of compassion, though he called Jenner Bruce, not Caitlyn.

But Huckabee portrayed bigots as victims: “The fact that we are now, in city after city, watching ordinances that say that your 7-year-old daughter, if she goes into the restroom, cannot be offended – and you can’t be offended – if she’s greeted there by a 42-year-old man who feels more like a woman than he does a man.”

This is the same Huckabee, mind you, who recently