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Providence City Councilor resigns from leadership over transgender remarks

A motorist is seen through a clearing in the rear window while stopped at a traffic light during a snowstorm Thursday in Providence, R.I.
A motorist is seen through a clearing in the rear window while stopped at a traffic light during a snowstorm Thursday in Providence, R.I.David Goldman/Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Providence City Council member has resigned from a leadership post after a recording surfaced of him using offensive language to discuss a transgender activist.

Council member Michael Correia submitted a letter to the city clerk's office on Friday resigning immediately from his post as president pro tem, WPRI-TV reported.

“The conversation was inappropriate and offensive to her and all members of the LGBTQIA Community and quite frankly should be offensive to everyone,” Correia, a Democrat, wrote on Facebook.

In the conversation, Correia talks about Justice Gaines — a transgender woman and activist who frequently engages with the City Council and once ran for a seat on it — using male pronouns, discussing her anatomy and referring to her as “it.”

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"I was hurt and upset and sad,” Gaines told WPRI-TV. “To have a city councilman mocking or making light of my pronouns or what being transgender means, when there are people in his ward who he represents who he’s supposed to be fighting for who are like me, who are trans women, who are nonbinary … that’s upsetting.”

Correia said he met with Gaines before his announcement to ask for her forgiveness and added that he understands the actions have broken his trust with the public.

“I am asking for the opportunity to earn back that trust through conversation and from working together with all our residents,” he wrote.

Correia remains on the City Council and has two more years of his term. He cannot seek reelection because of term limits.