Former state House Rep. Patsy Keever, who is currently the party’s first vice chair, attended the forum with three other candidates, including Janice Covington Allison, the first transgender candidate to run for the state party chair position.
During the event, Keever referred to Allison as “a man.” The comment came during Allison’s 10-minute address to the forum. The comments were captured on an audio recording,
As Allison spoke, she recounted the several ways she attempted to run as a state delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
“I ran as a senior citizen… I ran as a disabled vet… I ran as a woman… I ran as LGBT,” Allison told the forum. “And what did I leave out? There’s one more.”
“A man,” Keever said in the background.
“Huh? A what?!” Allison responded, as crosstalk and laughter ensued. “There ain’t no man left in here, honey.”
Allison said she was hurt by the comment — an oft-used insult against transgender women, stereotypically portraying them as a “man in a dress.”
“I was shocked when I heard what she said,” Allison said in a written statement to qnotes. “I would compare it to someone using a bigoted slur against me. I am a proud transgender woman and for me to be violated in this way at a public forum by a leader of the party was completely out of line.”
Allison added, “I believe Democrats are better than this and I feel as the first vice chair she must do better to represent our values as Democrats.”
Allison had also asked Keever for an apology.
Keever, who disputed the exact nature of the comment, told qnotes she delivered that apology personally on Wednesday morning.
“I have talked to her and she’s accepted my apology,” Keever said. “She was very understanding and she suggested that I apologize to the transgender community, which I certainly will on her Facebook page as soon as I get to Raleigh; I’m in the car driving right now.”
Allison confirmed Keever’s apology, but stressed the need for a wider apology to the entire community.
“I told her it’s fine and I accept your apology, but the apology is not just for me,” Allison said. “My whole community is up in arms. You need to write a statement and apologize to them.”