A Democratic politician has resigned from his leadership role on Providence City Council after he was recorded referring to a Black transgender activist as “it”.
Recordings surfaced last week of councilman Michael Correia, who represents ward 6 of Providence in Rhode Island, mocking trans activist Justice Gaines.
The recording sees Correia and an unnamed staffer mocking and misgendering Gaines over a run for city council, with the councilman saying: “[She’s] still working on developing [her] breasts and everything.”
Asked what Gaines would be called if elected, Correia responds: “An it. It.”
The Democratic lawmaker notably failed to apologise in his initial statement,claiming the secret recordings were a “grave intrusion of privacy” and had been taken out of context. He also suggested it was illegal to record someone without their consent in Rhode Island, which it is not.
Michael Correia ‘regrets’ causing hurt with ‘flippant’ remarks.
However, after a wave of anger in the city and calls from colleagues for him to step aside, Correia has since resigned from his position as the council’s president pro tempore.
Correia said in a Facebook post: “As someone who has spent the greater part of my adult life serving my community and city, I regret that my words may have hurt anyone in the LGBTQIA community, my friends, family colleagues and constituents in that community.
“I know that LGBTQIA people struggle, face discrimination and abuse and to think that I may have somehow contributed to that sentiment is unacceptable and for that I truly apologise.
“I would like to personally apologize to Justice Gaines for any hurt that I may have inflicted on her. My words were flippant and inappropriate as a leader and as a person.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I may from time to time try to joke around but I would do anything to help someone who needed it regardless of who they are or their station in life. There is no place for discrimination in our city and again I apologize to Justice for anything I have done to hurt her.”
Correia also called for “sensitivity training” to be offered to city council members and council staff “so that we can collectively understand the importance of a safe and respectful environment”.
Despite resigning from his leadership role, Correia will remain a member of the city council.