Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel Blasted For Trans Joke

A recording of County Attorney Allister Adel surfaced on Twitter last night.
A recording of County Attorney Allister Adel surfaced on Twitter last night. Via YouTube
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel took heat last night after a recording of her joking about gender identity surfaced.

In the recording, posted on Twitter by the Maricopa County Democratic Party, Adel talks about being surprised about the breed of one of her dogs after doing a DNA test.

"And apparently he's 80 percent Pomeranian, but in this day and age when you can self-select your gender, I'm saying he's an American Eskimo," Adel jokes in the recording, an apparent reference to transgender and non-binary people.

Edder Diaz-Martinez, the county Democrats' communications director, said the recording is from a private fundraiser in July and the organization was sent it anonymously. He said they edited out around an additional 15 seconds from the clip they received that were not relevant.

While the idea of "choosing" a gender has been the butt of right-wing jokes, trans people have long been clear that their gender is not a choice but something inherent. While not all agree with medicalizing gender identity, current medical literature recognizes the value of affirming the gender that trans people identify with.

The Democratic Party called the comments by Adel, a Republican appointed to the position last October, "reprehensible and vile" and called for support for Adel's Democratic opponent, Julie Gunnigle.
Equality Arizona, an LGBTQ+ rights organization that has endorsed Gunnigle, also condemned the remarks on Twitter as did the regional director of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest national LGBTQ rights groups.

In a statement to Phoenix New Times, Adel apologized for the comment.

""I have tremendous respect for the LGBTQ+ community and I advocate daily for inclusivity within the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and our broader community," she said. "I apologize for the insensitive comment and deeply regret it."

A spokesperson for her campaign noted that Adel has signed the county attorney's office on to a pledge to support equal treatment for LGBTQ people and ended an anti-gay adoption policy.

In a statement released last night, Gunnigle called the remark bigoted and hateful. She pointed out that transgender people face higher rates of violence and suicide than the general population.

A 2018 report from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation identified a link between stigma towards transgender people and the disproportionate violence they face.

Adel's comments come a day after Mark Kelly, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate candidate, apologized for saying his brother, also an astronaut, suffered from DNA changes that made him like a monkey, so "we even changed his named to Rodrigo."
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Erasmus Baxter was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times.