The Republican most likely to be elected sheriff of one of the largest counties in Texas weighed in on the transgender bathroom rights controversy Friday by threatening to hospitalize any transgender woman who tried to use the same restroom as his young daughter.
The Dallas Observer reports Tracy Murphree, a former Texas Ranger who faces no Democrat opponent in his campaign for sheriff of Denton County, made his threat in a Facebook post in which he called the transgender civil rights movement “craziness.” Murphree wrote:
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
Murphree’s transphobic post received more than 500 “likes” and scores of supportive comments before it was deleted or hidden from public view.
“I have three daughters and a grandson. I will say, if any of them were preyed upon by an individual that can’t curb their sick desires… I would break God’s command to not commit murder,” wrote one supporter. “Thank you Tracy for protecting our county/state with the values and morals that seem to be lost in this world!”
“I believe that a man in a women’s restroom would constitute an immediate breach of the peace,” added another. “You all know where I’m going with this.”
However, many area residents—Denton is a suburb of Dallas, home to one of the nation’s largest LGBT communities—voiced their shock and outrage. Amber Dyden Briggle, a former Denton City Council candidate and the mother of an 8-year-old transgender boy, attempted to educate Murphree:
If my son were to walk into a women’s room, looking the way he does, he would no doubt be corrected and sent to the men’s room. What we’ve done now is call attention to a young child, only 8 years old, who is now behind closed doors with a bunch of men — had he walked in there to use the bathroom to pee in the first place, no one would have batted an eye, because he looks like and is a boy.
“We need to be acting out of compassion, and not out of fear, and what you have done has put my child in greater danger,” asserted Dyden Briggle, who said she voted for Murphree. “And you are supposed to be the future sheriff, who is charged to protect him. Shame on you… Are you looking for votes, or are you looking for someone to bully and punch my son?”
“He is not a danger,” Dyden Briggle said of her son. “Transgender people are not a danger. I can promise you that you have used the bathroom countless times with a transgender person without even knowing it. Trans people have existed forever, and only now we’re scared of them? Not cool, Tracy. Stay out of my child’s bathroom. There are far more important things to be worried about than someone trying to pee.”
Tracy retorted by invoking a right-wing meme, vowing he “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,” he said, according to the Observer. “The few transgenders (sic) rights do not trump the rights of the many. I will not stand by in political correctness afraid of being labeled and allow a male to enter a bathroom my daughter occupies. I just won’t do it.”
While there is no statistical evidence of transgender people committing crimes in bathrooms, fully 70 percent of trans people have reported being denied entry, harassed or assaulted when trying to use a restroom, according to a 2013 study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. This has led many states, counties and local municipalities to enact non-discrimination ordinances that specifically protect the right of transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice.
Conservative backlash against such laws, much of it rooted in Christian ideology, has resulted in numerous states considering or passing legislation forcing transgender people to use only the bathroom that matches their anatomy. While boycotts and other campaigns have persuaded some states to amend, abandon or veto such discriminatory laws, others—most recently North Carolina—have passed so-called “religious liberty bills,” which are largely viewed as anti-LGBT backlash against last year’s landmark Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.