News & Opinion
The transgender community has taken somewhat of a supernatural existence according to a Florida lawmaker. Republican Rep. Webster Barnaby addressed transgender people as "demons" and "mutants", during a legislative hearing on Monday. Both transgender youth and adults in attendance to the public hearing, Barnaby compared the already marginalized group to 'X-Men'--- yes, Marvel Comic's superhero franchise.
"I'm looking at society today and it's like I'm watching an X-Men movie", Barnaby claimed in an emotionally fueled rant.
"It's like we have mutants living among us on planet Earth."
Contingent with the superhero franchise, X- men are undoubtedly outcasts, though they vow to protect the same world that fears and hates them.
The commerce Committee hearing was for House Bill 1521 or the Safety in Private Spaces Act. If enacted, this bill would criminalize using restrooms that do not align with a person's biological sex. Several other states are considering passing similar if not identical bills, with North Carolina being the first to have it fully instated.
Barnaby, a devout conservative and Christian stood firm on his disparaging comments, asserting he wasn't "on the fence" about his societal views. "This is planet Earth where God created men male, and women, female," he exclaimed. "That's right, I called you demons and imps who came and parade before us and pretend that you are part of this world."
Later in the hearing, Barnaby would issue an apology towards the transgender community members in attendance.
“I would like to apologize to the trans community for referring to you as demons,” he said.
Barnaby however seemingly denounced his apology after later replying to a tweet of his rant, stating, "I am proud to stand by my entire statement, including my apologies." Barnaby's twitter has since been deactivated.
Democratic Rep. Kritsen Arrington. Republican Rep. Chase Tremount, also made a point to sway the tone of the hearing, saying, "I just really want to let you all know that there are many here that understand and support you."
"I'm also a Christian man and I jus want to say to some of the folks in here who share their testimony.. You're not an evil being", Tremount said respectfully. "I believe that you're fearfully and wonderfully made."
It is no surprise that Rep. Barnaby's comments garnered attention on social media, especially human rights activists. Transgender author, activist and community leader Hope Giselle declared a stance against Rep. Barnaby along with the Senate, noting his comments as bigotry, discrimination, and dehumanizing.
"Rep. Webster Barnaby, in all his ignorance, referred to transgender individuals as "X-Men” “Demons” and “mutants from another planet." This dehumanizing language is unacceptable and shows the deep-rooted bigotry and discrimination that we are facing. It's clear that our opponents are not just misinformed, but also actively seek to harm us with their discriminatory policies.," Giselle began in her caption while wearing an X-Men shirt.
"As a black trans activist, I know the intersectional struggles that our community faces... We have the power to create change through media and organizing, and it's time for us to come together and make our voices heard."
Former Florida Democratic state representative Carlos Guillermo Smith wrote a tweet criticizing Florida's new law proposals. “When Republican Webster Barnaby called trans people ‘demons’, ‘imps’, and ‘mutants it wasn’t a mistake or gaffe," he said.
“It was the hatred and bigotry that’s really motivating Florida’s 20+ anti-LGBTQ proposals finally being spoken into words. Now it’s exposed."
The advocacy group Equality Florida later called on Webster to resign and on the Florida house speaker, Paul Renner, to condemn “this bigoted vitriol from his own caucus”.
Rep. Barnaby did not make any further comments regarding his statements from Monday's hearing.