Anti-LGBT activists are taking the newfound role of “potty police” to the next level, pledging to carry weapons into public restrooms to “protect” against trans people using the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
The threats came after retailer Target announced Wednesday it would allow transgender patrons to use the restroom of their choice. The policy is a slap at North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2, which, among other things, bars transgender people from using facilities that correspond with their gender identity, if those are in government buildings; it does let private-sector companies set their own policies. In response to Target's action, at least two right-wing leaders promised to meet trans people in the bathroom — with firearms.
The preliminary warning shot came from Anita Staver, president of the right-wing, anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit conservative legal group — best known for representing defiant antigay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis — that recently told CBS News it is proudly pushing transphobic “bathroom bills” nationwide.
On Friday, Staver — who is married to Liberty Counsel’s chairman and cofounder, Mat Staver — sent out a tweet blasting Target’s trans-inclusive policy. “I’m taking a Glock .45 to the ladies room,” she wrote, before adding what appears to be a dig at the concept that someone could identify as a gender other than that they were assigned at birth.
— Liberty Lawyer (@AnitaStaver) April 22, 2016
Staver is an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Florida and the District of Columbia, and who not only serves as president of Liberty Counsel, but also as the director of Liberty Counsel Action, the right-wing group’s political action committee, according to her bio on Liberty Counsel’s website.
The same day that Staver posted her threat about carrying firearms into Target bathrooms, a Republican candidate for sheriff in Texas promised he would “beat the hell out of a transgender person who tried to piss in a bathroom where [his] daughter was peeing,” according to the Dallas Observer.
“This whole bathroom thing is craziness I have never seen,” Tracy Murphree, a candidate for Denton County sheriff, wrote Friday in a Facebook post reviewed by the Observer. “All I can say is this: If my little girl is in a public women’s restroom and a man, regardless of how he may identify, goes into the bathroom, he will then identify as a John Doe until he wakes up in whatever hospital he may be taken to. Your identity does not trump my little girl's safety. I identify as an overprotective father that loves his kids and would do anything to protect them.”
After noting that hundreds of commenters agreed with or “liked” Murphree’s sentiment, the Observer contacted the Republican candidate. Murphree is expected to be elected sheriff in the county, where no Democrat entered the race, reports Daily Kos.
"This isn't an anti-transgender issue,” Murphree told the Dallas paper. “It's a safety issue. I'm not afraid of transgenders. I'm afraid of who will take advantage of the rules to get close to kids. The rights of transgenders do not trump the rights of everyone else."
In subsequent conversation on his Facebook wall the Observer reported, Murphree repeated these disingenuous fears, even when confronted by a constituent who says she voted for Murphree. The woman, who has an 8-year-old transgender son, pointed out that the man hoping to be the county’s top law enforcement official is now advocating violence against her child. Murphree stuck to his transphobic guns, despite the fact that there has never been a single verified report in the U.S. of a transgender person assaulting a cisgender (nontrans) person in a restroom, and law enforcement officers nationwide (including in Texas) have flatly rejected the claim that trans-inclusive protections allow predators to “pretend” to be transgender to assault people.
“Yes, I will be the next sheriff, and I will serve all citizens,” Murphree reportedly wrote in response to the mother. “I will not sit back and not voice my beliefs and opinions. I will not give in to the political correctness police. I won't be threatened by those who may call me a bigot or ignorant. I have no issue with transgenders. That's between them and God.”