“This whole bathroom thing is craziness I have never seen,” Murphree wrote in an April 22 Facebook post. “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”
It’s a feeling that many people seem to share. The Republican’s post garnered more than 500 Facebook "likes" since he posted it earlier in the day and had more than a 100 comments as people gave him the thumbs up.
“#truth We NEVER allow Blake to go to a public restroom alone,” one woman wrote. “So when it is just Blake and I are out together if the place doesn't have a family restroom he goes into the women's with me. Other mothers understand, and it has never been an issue.”
Lucky for Blake, Murphree never witnessed him entering a women's restroom occupied by his daughter, otherwise Blake might have received a righteous stomping from the man most likely to be Denton County's next chief law enforcement officer. Murphree faces Libertarian Randy Butler in November. No Democrat entered the race.
“I believe that a man in a women's restroom would constitute an immediate breach of the peace,” another supporter wrote. “You all know where I'm going with this.”
“These predators are sitting back and thinking this is shooting fish in a barrel,” another added. “I am and will always be my daughter's protector no matter what I have to do to protect her.”
“Let us not forget that a predator is a predator...they prey on boys too,” another warned. “I think everyone is vulnerable in this messed up world today. 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! Just sayin...thank you Tracy for protecting our county/state with the values and morals that seem to be lost in this world!”
Murphree told the Observer, "This isn't an anti-transgender issue. 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."
But not everyone in Denton County agreed.
Amber Dyden Briggle, a former candidate for Denton City Council District 3, is the mother of an 8-year-old who identifies as a transgender child. Briggle is a staunch advocate for transgender rights. She recently appeared on TEDTalks to discuss being the mother of a young transgender child and the challenges he must face.
“As the parent of a transgender child who is only 8 years old, Tracy, this ... really, really upsets me,” Briggle wrote. “I know you are a protective parent, but SO AM I. 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.
“Let me put it another way: halfway through first grade, this PERFECT child of mine, who is just as miraculous and amazing today as he was on the day of his birth, stopped feeling comfortable using the girls' room,” she continued. “But he wasn't sure if he was allowed to use the boys room either. The result? He held his bladder ALL DAY LONG and basically did a pee-pee dance because he didn't know where was a safe place to pee.
“His grades slipped. He was acting out at home. He just wasn't himself anymore. Once we realized what the issue was, and solved the bathroom problem, I swear to you, his reading scores jumped THREE LEVELS IN THREE WEEKS because he was finally able to concentrate again. I have the report card to prove it, if you'd like to see it.
“He is not a danger. 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.
“I voted for you, by the way,” she added. "I like you. Just knock it off with the transphobia. It is harmful and puts my child's safety at risk, and as a protective parent like you, I will not stand for it.”
Many commenters didn’t agree with her statement and pointed out that Murphree said, “man,” and not child, while echoing Murphree’s support of violence against a transgender person who walks into a bathroom where the commenters’ daughters were peeing.
Briggle quickly rebuked them.
“Many of the comments in this thread are incredibly insensitive, and are calling for violence against transgender people,” she pointed out. “My SON is transgender. Are you advocating for violence against him as well? When you imply that you would be physically harming a transgender person who is simply trying to pee in peace, you, sir, are advocating for violence and illegal activity (assault) as a law enforcement official. I would expect better of you. You are stirring up anger and misunderstanding, and the result is that now transgender people INCLUDING MY OWN 8 YEAR OLD SON are now in greater danger than they were before.
“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 .. .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?”
Many commenters then began questioning how Briggle’s transgender child could identify as one since he hasn’t reached puberty yet.
“An 8 year old identifying as transgender?” one commenter asked. “They can't even decide who their best friend is from one day to the next. I'd be curious how you came to this decision about your child, 'cause he never heard the word until you or others close to him discussed it. You are labeling a child that has no clue what it truly means to be transgender. No one should be labeled as a transgender until he/she has gone through puberty and the hormones have settled into what they will be for life.”
The commenter's statement, incidentally, is contrary to what medical science says about what the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) calls gender dysphoria.
Murphree chimed in.
“Amber, you have demonstrated part of the problem,” he wrote. “You advocate your right to defend your child and state that your child has the right to pee in peace. Yet when I advocate my right to defend my child and her right to pee in peace I'm a bigot and dangerous. I'm not a bigot I have nothing against you or your child. I would defend both of you with my life. You say I've put your child in danger. I say these folks advocating for laws and businesses caving in put my child in danger. I'm trying to figure out when the rights of a very few trump the rights of the very many. I'm trying to figure out how I'm a bad person for wanting to defend my daughter's right to pee in peace. Her right to not have a male walk into the bathroom when she's using it. Nor do I want a female walking in on my two young sons.
“Maybe I'm a bit jaded after almost 30 years of seeing kids assaulted and sexually abused,” he continued. “Maybe I realize that child molesters will use these new rules to their benefit. Maybe, just maybe I have the same right to advocate for the safety of my kids. I'm angered that when someone says bathrooms should be gender specific, they are made to be a horrible person.
“Yes, I will be the next sheriff, and I will serve all citizens. 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.
“The few transgenders rights do not trump the rights of the many,” he added. “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.”