Denton County Sheriff Candidate Apologizes for Saying He'd Beat a Transgender Woman

Tracy Murphree, GOP candidate for Denton County sheriff, apologized for writing a Facebook post in which he said he'd beat any transgender woman he saw using a public restroom occupied by his daughter. 

“It was a mistake for me to post that,” he told Channel 8 WFAA news in Dallas by phone.

Murphree told the station that he'd been following the news related to North Carolina's recent passage of a law that restricts bathroom occupancy based on the gender identified on a person's birth certificate. He was angered, he claims, by the response from people protesting the passage of the law, one that many law enforcement officials will struggle to enforce since many transgender people resemble their chosen gender identity.

The firestorm surrounding Murphree began on Friday when he took to Facebook to voice his frustrations about a transgender woman entering the restroom where his daughter may be urinating in the next stall.

Murphree's supporters were quick to agree. “Some idiot gonna get a mudhole stomped in him/her/him by my boy T Murph, uh-huh,” one supporter wrote. “Political Horeshit Correctness will one day bring America to its knees. We have to stand up. Go T Murph.”

“Why not make them their own bathroom with the label confused on it,” another supporter wrote. “They can all go in there and leave the regular people.” (Nothing regular about these assholes, but they're need to persecute like the devil they fear.)

“Yes sir, he will have to go to a transgender restroom because I will neuter him,” another wrote.

Murphree also encouraged the violence from others.

After the Observer broke the story, hundreds of commenters were quick to criticize Murphree for his stance on the transgender community and his claims that he wouldn't stop the assault of a transgender woman.

Murphree did try to clarify his comment the next day on Facebook, blaming the Observer for a crappy headline and the reporter for trying to elicit a pat on the back from his editor. (I'm still waiting.) Then he continued spewing the same rhetoric. “I just believe my daughter should be able to go to the restroom without a strange man walking into the room,” he wrote in a follow-up post. “Maybe the person doesn't even mean to show anything, but the fact that a man with a penis is in the ladies room using the facilities, that could happen.”

Amber Dryden Briggle, a former candidate for Denton City Council and a mother of a transgender child, quickly rebuked Murphree for his original post. She said he was putting her transgender child in danger by using hateful rhetoric. She later told the Observer that he or his followers didn't realize (or didn't care) they were using hateful language.   

“It's like someone being all like, 'Look, I'm not racist, but ...' and then saying something incredibly racist,” Briggle says. “He believes himself to be open and accepting, but then he spouts something so incredibly dangerous that he doesn't even recognize that his words were transphobic from the start.

“To say you'd beat someone unconscious and then give your followers the blessing to do the same, is incredibly transphobic and harmful," she says. "It boggles me that he doesn't see it that way at all. 'But I didn't mean it that way!' — yes... actually you did.”

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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.