Amid heightened awareness of transgender issues due to Caitlyn Jenner’s widely-praised public debut on Monday, insensitive comments made by 2016 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee last year could cause considerable backlash.
A 2015 video recently unearthed by the website World Net Daily and later circulated by Buzzfeed, shows the conservative former Arkansas governor making light of increasing mainstream acceptance of the trans community during an address to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Now 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 said. “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.’”
The crowd can be heard laughing at Huckabee’s comments, to which he replied, “You’re laughing because it sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it?”
Those who are probably not laughing are members of the LGBT community, many of whom have made great strides recently to increase awareness of bullying and discrimination against trans people. Although Huckabee has yet to comment on Jenner’s high-profile transition, he has fended off accusations of homophobia in the past.
In 2014, he said at the Iowa Faith and Freedom convention, “When people say, ‘Why don’t you just kind of get on the right side of history?’ I said, ‘You’ve got to understand, this for me is not about the right side or the wrong side of history, this is the right side of the Bible, and unless God rewrites it, edits it, sends it down with his signature on it, it’s not my book to change.”
Huckabee previously waded into the trans rights issue in 2013, raising similar concerns about privacy in showers. “If the child — a boy — says, you know what, today I really am feeling my girl’s side, he gets to go shower with the girls when he’s 14,” Huckabee said on his Fox News show at the time. “I’m just thinking of all the 14-year-old boys I went to school with, and how many of them would have awakened with that revelation.”
Msnbc has reached out to the Huckabee campaign for comment on his 2015 remarks but have not heard back at this time.