Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that LGBT groups have endorsed Patsy Keever for N.C. Democratic Party chair. The groups haven’t made formal endorsements, but the leader the LGBT Democrats of North Carolina has personally endorsed Keever.
Janice Covington, a transgender activist who hopes to lead the N.C. Democratic Party, says she was “embarrassed” when fellow candidate Patsy Keever called her a “man” during a Gastonia forum Tuesday.
Keever is a former state House member from Asheville and the best-known of four hopefuls seeking the job. The comment came as Covington was listing the different groups she represented as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2012 – disabled veterans, senior citizens, women and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Covington then told the candidates’ forum she couldn’t remember the fifth group she’d represented. That’s when Keever suggested “man.”
Covington had a quick retort: “I said, ‘Honey, there ain’t no man left in here,’” she said Wednesday.
Keever posted an apology Wednesday afternoon on Covington’s Facebook page. “During the candidates’ forum in Gaston County, I referred to you using an incorrect gender pronoun,” Keever wrote. “That was inaccurate and offensive, and not the way that I would conduct myself as chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party.”
Covington said the comment still represents a “bigoted remark,” and that “ignorance is no excuse” for someone who wants to lead the party.
“She apologized, but I told her it’s bigger than me,” Covington said. “She needs to apologize to the transgender community.”
LGBT leaders are standing by Keever. Equality North Carolina director Chris Sgro told qnotes, an LGBT publication, he views Keever as an advocate for the community.
“While I imagine she did not mean disrespect, the comment is nonetheless emblematic of how much work we have left to fight for trans rights,” he said.