Eli Bremer, a Colorado Springs Republican and candidate to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) in 2022, again equated transgender women competing in women’s sports with the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal in a radio interview Tuesday. It is the latest example of a pattern of transphobic rhetoric from Bremer since he announced his campaign in August.
During Bremer’s announcement, he stated that “men competing in women’s sports,” (a transphobic statement on its own) would be a cornerstone of his campaign.
Bremer, a pentathlete and former Olympian who helped Congress write Olympic committee reform bills, appeared on Colorado’s 710 KNUS station Tuesday to speak with radio host Peter Boyles about his campaign. Bremer attacked Democrats for their stance on trans athletes, repeatedly referring to trans women athletes as men.
“You know, Peter, women have rightfully fought for their rights for, quite frankly, centuries,” Bremer said. “If you think about it, throughout the history of mankind, women have been subjugated to men. We’ve gotten to a point in society where women are allowed to get divorced without getting stoned. They’re allowed to own private property. I think that’s fantastic that women in our society are valued the same as men. … And if you think about it, we literally now have men taking away things from women. And it’s actually the progressives and the Democrats who support men destroying what women have rightfully built.”
Bremer emphasized his stance in the interview, calling efforts to allow trans women to compete in women’s sports “abhorrent.”
“Liberals are now quite literally allowing biological men to take things away from women, which is abhorrent,” Bremer said.
Bremer has received backlash for his anti-trans comments. An op-ed published in Colorado Newsline by tennis star Meike Babel argued that Bremer’s comments were transphobic and an attempt to pander to the Republican base.
In response, Bremer used his Twitter to double down on his stance equating sexual abusers with trans athletes.
Colorado state Rep. Brianna Titone (R-Arvada), the first openly transgender lawmaker in state history, took issue with Bremer’s comments in a statement to the Colorado Times Recorder.
“Comments like those from Mr. Bremer are out of touch, uninformed, and ignorant,” Titone said. “It would seem that he wants to get on the media bandwagon by following the example of other sitting legislators who engage in these kinds of dangerous tropes. Hateful statements from public figures hurt trans kids. Hurting potential constituents with provocative statements isn’t a good way to win votes. Young people today demonstrate that social change and acceptance of the trans community is a train that’s better getting on than trying to stop.”
Gillian Ford, communications director for LGBTQ+ advocacy group One Colorado, also criticized Bremer in a statement to the Colorado Times Recorder.
“Eli Bremer’s egregious rhetoric towards the trans community makes his priority clear,” Ford said. “He has shown a distinct commitment to discriminate and contrive hateful falsehoods against the trans community. One Colorado stands in solidarity with transgender and non-binary Coloradans and opposes any candidate, direct action, or policy that diminishes or denies LGBTQ Coloradans from leading equal, healthy, affirmed lives.”
Other prominent Republicans are also attacking trans athletes with transphobic comments. In July, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said that voters would be outraged by “boys playing girls sports,” and that that outrage would lead to Republican victories in the 2022 midterms.
Spoke to a friend today who told me his 6th graders class was asked on the first day of school what each kids preferred pronouns are. She was one of the only kids who did not succumb to pier pressure and answered “she” not “they.” Do you support pressuring kids like this?— Eli Bremer for Senate (@elibremer) September 3, 2021
During his radio interview Tuesday, Bremer agreed that voters would be mobilized by that same outrage.
“This issue about protecting women could be a great issue for Republicans,” Bremer said. “Michael Bennet did not stand up and protect women when he had the chance. The Democrats like talking about the war on women, well, let’s talk about that war on women. Joe Biden signed an executive order putting men in women’s sports on day one.”
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) has also received criticism for the transphobic rhetoric she has employed while lambasting the Equality Act, a piece of federal legislation that would allow young trans athletes to compete with the gender they identify with.
In April, Boebert said the Equality Act would force girls to lose athletic scholarships and Bremer told Colorado Public Radio that he empathized with those fears.
“What’s going to happen if an individual says, ‘Gee, I can’t make it as a man.’ And the protections aren’t there. So they say, ‘I’ll identify as a woman and get a scholarship and get into a college that way,’” Bremer said to CPR. “And my daughter doesn’t get into college because of that.”
Ford said Bremer’s stance on the Equality Act shows his prejudice.
“Bremer’s criticism against the Equality Act further emphasizes his bigotry by objecting to explicit and comprehensive protections for all LGBTQ people at a federal level,” Ford said. “With a growing bipartisan supermajority of Americans supporting the Equality Act, and with the increasing urgency due to Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on the LGBTQ community, Bremer’s views against the Equality Act are too extreme for Colorado’s voters.”
Currently, the International Olympic Committee allows trans women to compete if they show they’ve been taking testosterone-suppressing medication for at least 12 months, but are considering altering their policies.
Trans athletes achieved both milestones and notoriety during the Tokyo Olympics this summer, mostly for their groundbreaking performances but also partly due to transphobic attacks from Republicans like Bremer and Boebert.
According to national activists, the battle for transgender rights is being played out in youth sports legislation across the country. Over 30 states introduced some version of an anti-trans sports bill this year.
In July, the Colorado High School Activities Association fully recognized the right for trans athletes to participate in high school sports, competing with the gender they identify with.
Ford wanted to emphasize that Bremer’s comments are not going unnoticed among the trans community.
“LGBTQ Coloradans and their families deserve better representation in the United States Senate than Eli Bremer,” Ford said.
Bremer’s office has not yet returned a request for comment. This story will be updated if a comment is provided.