Once again, some of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's past comments are drawing controversy — this time they're about people who identify as transgender.
The remarks in question were made at a March 2019 forum hosted by the Bermuda Business Development Agency in which he criticized Democrats' focus on social issues like transgenderism as an election strategy.
"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 said in a video first reported by BuzzFeed News. "They care about health care, they care about education, they care about safety and all of those kinds of things."
"And some of these social issues, that — and it's not just the American government; the E.U. government does it as well — we're focusing on a lot of things that have little relevance to people who are trying to live in a world that is changing because of technology and communications and things like that," he continued.
Later in his remarks, he also argued that Democrats' leftward trajectory helps explain the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.
"You can understand if you take a look at the Democratic Party; they are so far left that, two years ago, there was nobody on their side that would take these positions, and, today, virtually all the candidates for president of the Democratic Party have been so 'progressive,'" Bloomberg said. "I don't know what 'progressive' means."
In a statement touting the former mayor's record on transgender issues, a Bloomberg campaign spokesperson told BuzzFeed, "Mike understands that the transgender community has been under attack for decades and the advance of rights has not been equal. ... Mike is running to defeat Donald Trump and reverse the many policies he has implemented that attack the rights of the transgender community."
As expected, the remarks were met with harsh criticism on social media.
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David called on the candidate for apologize "for using language that demoralizes and dehumanizes members of our community."
New York Magazine writer Sarah Jones called the comments "appalling."
Former CNN host Reza Aslan wrote, "I am literally salivating over the prospect of watching this worm get pounded on the debate stage tomorrow night."
Actor and filmmaker Andrew Keenan-Bolger described Bloomberg's comments as "dehumanizing and completely unacceptable."
But the 2019 remarks weren't the first of their kind for Bloomberg. He has also taken taken criticism for similar comments he made at an event in Oxford, England, in 2016 in which he also discussed the politics of transgender issues.
"If you want to know if somebody is a good salesman, give him the job of going to the Midwest and picking a town and selling to that town the concept that some man wearing a dress should be in a locker room with their daughter," the former mayor said, according to a story at NBC News. "If you can sell that, you can sell anything. They just look at you and they say, 'What on Earth are you talking about?'"
This latest transgender controversy comes as Bloomberg is set to take the stage for his first Democratic primary debate on Wednesday amid a wave of other past controversial comments he's made. Last week, audio surfaced of 2015 remarks he made in defense of "stop and frisk" policing where he talked about profiling young minorities. The candidate has also come under scrutiny in recent days for his 2016 comments insulting the intelligence of farmers.