The Florida House could be poised to take up a bill that seeks to prevent transgender men and women from using bathrooms that don’t line up with their sex assigned at birth, after one Republican said Monday it’s “like we have mutants living among us on planet Earth.” (See the full statement transcribed below, with audio.)
“We have people that live among us today on planet Earth that are happy to display themselves as if they were mutants from another planet,” Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deltona, said before the House Commerce Committee approved the bill. “This is the planet Earth where God created men male and women female. I’m a proud Christian conservative Republican. I’m not on the fence, not on the fence.”
Barnaby’s comments came after transgender people testified against the bill. He called them “demons and imps who come and parade before us and pretend that you are part of this world. So, I’m saying my righteous indignation is stirred. I am sick and tired of this. I’m not going to put up with it. You can test me and try to take me on. But I promise you I’ll win every time.”
Rep. Kristen Arrington, D-Kissimmee, followed Barnaby and was clearly taken aback by his comments. She addressed the transgender people who spoke, pointing to their “bravery.”
“Also to tell that I see you, hear you, understand and love you,” Arrington said. “Definitely, I’m still a little bit thrown off from the last comments here and just really want to let you all know that there are many here that understand and support you.”
Rep. Chase Tramont, a Port Orange Republican who supported the bill, appeared to try to distance himself from Barnaby’s comments.
“I’m also a Christian man, and I just want to say to some of the folks in here who shared their testimony, I appreciated you coming up. You’re not an evil being. I believe that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made,” Tramont said. “And I want you to live your life as well. There’s no easy way to go about addressing legislation. There’s no easy way to make everybody happy on all sides. There just isn’t.”
Committee Chairman Bob Rommel, R-Naples, followed by also thanking the people who spoke.
“I know it’s one of those sensitive issues, and sometimes we have to make a difficult decision,” he said.
Later, Barnaby apologized for describing transgender people as “demons.”
The bill (HB 1521) is one of a series of proposals that Republicans are moving through the Legislature that focus on transgender people. The Senate last week passed a bill that would prevent doctors from providing treatment such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers to transgender minors. The Senate could pass a bill Tuesday that seeks to prevent children from going to drag shows.
The House bill would require that a wide range of businesses, health-care facilities and educational institutions have a “restroom designated for exclusive use by females and a restroom designated for exclusive use by males.” It also would allow unisex restrooms.
The bill would define female as “a person belonging, at birth to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing eggs.” It would define male as “a person belonging, at birth to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing sperm.”
Supporters of the bill said it would help protect women and girls in restrooms. Sponsor Rachel Plakon, R-Lake Mary, described the bill as “common sense.”
“This bill is about common decency standards in private spaces,” Plakon told committee members. “And I encourage you all to vote up on this important bill today to ensure safety for all, especially women and girls.”
But opponents said the bill, which could lead to misdemeanor charges for people who violate it, would be impossible to enforce. Also, they said it would lead to discrimination and harassment against transgender people.
“There’s nothing that stops this bill from being used as a tool of harassment,” Jon Harris Maurer, public policy director for the LGBTQ-advocacy group Equality Florida, said. “There are no standards for reasonableness here. It is an unworkable invasion of privacy that will not make people more safe.”
With Monday’s approval by the Commerce Committee, the bill is ready to go to the full House. The Senate version (SB 1674) needs approval from the Fiscal Policy Committee before it could go to the full Senate.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida
Audio: Reps. Webster Barnaby (R), Kristen Arrington (D), Chase Tramont (R)
Rep. Webster Barnaby’s Full Statement:
“I want to commend the sponsor for great courage shown. Representative [Rachel] Plakon is bringing this, this very difficult bill. And, you know, to all the folks that are in the audience that consider themselves gender dysphoria, sis, I don’t know what all that means. I really don’t know what all that means.
“I’m looking at society today. And it’s like I’m watching an X Men movie with people that, when you watch the X Men movies or Marvel Comics, it’s like we have mutants living among us on planet Earth. And, you know, some people don’t like that, but that’s a fact. We have people that live among us today on planet earth that are happy to display themselves as if they were mutants from another planet.
“[He shouts:] This is the planet Earth where God created men, male and women, female. I’m a proud Christian, conservative, Republican. I’m not on the fence. Not on the fence.
“[His voice lowers.] This bill is about public safety. It’s about public safety because, as the sponsor of the bill said, we have children that have been assaulted in bathrooms. Our job as lawmakers is to do our best to protect those in our society that can’t protect themselves and that is our children. For that reason, I am up on this bill and I thank again Representative Plakon for having the courage to bring this bill. I’m not on the fence. Not one bit.
“And I’m offended that people can come before this committee and try to intimidate us, to try to strike fear into us. It’s time to push back. There is so much darkness in our world today. So much evil in our world today. And so many people who are afraid to address the evil, the dysphoria, the dysfunction. I’m not afraid to address the dysphoria or the dysfunction. The Lord rebuke you, Satan, and all of your demons and all of your imps who come and parade before us.
“That’s right. I call you demons and imps, who come and parade before us, and pretend that you are part of this world. So I’m saying my righteous indignation is stirred. I am sick and tired of this. We–I’m not going to put up with it. You can test me and try to take me on. But I promise you, I’ll win every time let’s all vote up on this bill. Thank you.”
Marty Reed says
Rep. Barnaby is disgusting! He is a perfect example of why Florida is moving back to the 1950’s. Why would the younger generation wish to stay in this state?
Navy Guy says
He ain’t wrong. We should all have a bit of compassion for them but it’s hard when they’re forcing their ideologies down our throats.
Nephew Of Uncle Sam says
Can you name anytime a transgender person has thrown their ideologies down your throat? Didn’t think so.
Never meet this guy, but love him!
@To Whom It May Concern: Webster Barnaby
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To call yourself a Christian and in the same breath call any of God’s creations “demons and imps” is ridiculous. Barnaby may call himself Christian but he clearly has no understanding whatsoever what a true Christian believes. The level of ignorance this shows in a state elected official is just beyond the pale.
If we can’t all learn to live with each other and not be so judgmental about the differences in people, we’re never going to move forward. As I understand it, trans people make up less than 1% of the population. As far as I know there is no epidemic of trans people assaulting people in bathrooms. Why our elected officials spend time on this can only be explained if you realize that by doing this stuff, they ignore the serious issues affecting Floridians every day. But they will do this because their base thinks this is where the problems are.
If people claim to be Christians stop judging other people and how the chose to live their lives. Bet some of these so called Christian Republicans have skeletons in the closet. They need to stop being so judgmental. They are not God and have no right to JUDGE.
Pat Stote says
This is an outrageous comment, actually, it’s more than outrageous.
How does he claim to be a Christian and have such hate views on a group of people that are such a minority of the population I think they are less than one percent of the population.
I don’t understand why they just can’t have bathrooms where anybody can go in, especially if they are separate and not a public restroom.
This is just a bunch of crap. I am disturbed to know people who are of that mindset.