George Pataki, former governor of New York, leaves the stage after speaking during the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, May 16, 2015.
Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty

Pataki slams Huckabee for ‘mocking’ transgender community


Former New York governor and 2016 presidential candidate George Pataki is calling out his GOP rival Mike Huckabee for insensitive remarks he made about the transgender community last year.

In a video from the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, unearthed this week by World Net Daily, Huckabee is seen making fun of mainstream acceptance of the trans community. “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 at the time“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.’”

Pataki, one of the more moderate voices in the growing GOP 2016 field, didn’t think Huckabee’s remarks were a laughing matter. During an appearance Tuesday on CNN, Pataki acknowledged that while the former Arkansas governor’s remarks were clearly “meant in humor” they were inappropriate. 

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“I think the more important point is we should give people their dignity and let them make their own decisions,” Pataki said on CNN. “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.”

Later on Tuesday, Pataki tweeted the same remarks and made reference to reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, who made a widely-publicized post-transition debut this week on the cover of Vanity Fair

Huckabee, who has been criticized for making homophobic remarks in the past, has a history of bringing up shower and restroom use when it comes to the trans community. “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 in 2013. “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.”

His campaign has yet to respond to requests for comment on his 2015 remarks.