Ever since her Facebook battle over transgender bathroom rights with local officials in late April, former candidate for Denton City Council Amber Briggle has become a prominent defender of transgender children who she claims are being unfairly targeted by Republican politicians’ desire to regulate school bathrooms.
"I don’t understand what is so offensive and scary about my son,” she says.
Briggle has appeared in several newspaper articles, on local TV news and at a May 31 press conference held by the Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization fighting for LGBT Texans’ right to equality. Speaking at the press conference, she invited Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton over to her house for dinner.
It took nearly three months — and her mentioning the invitation again in an interview on Monday with KXAS TV (NBC 5) — but Paxton has finally accepted her offer. “[I would be] happy to do that,” Paxton told a KXAS TV reporter that same day.
Briggle tells the Observer that she wasn't surprised when she heard Paxton accepted her invitation on the news, and called his office the next day to confirm. "I get an idea and we’re going to do it," she says. "I’m pretty stubborn."
The news comes as Texas politicians reengage the issue. On Tuesday, Paxton joined with four other states to block a separate set of regulations targeting transgender people and their healthcare. Lt. Gov. Patrick asked Paxton to join Texas with 12 other states to challenge President Barack Obama’s administration’s instruction for how public schools should accommodate transgender students. A federal judge agreed and temporarily blocked the Obama administration's new mandate to allow transgender children to use the restroom that matched their gender identity.
Briggle had extended a similar offer to the Republican-elect for Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree shortly after their Facebook fight grabbed the national spotlight. That spat started when he 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.
She didn’t ask Murphree over for dinner, but she did invite him to bring his children on a playdate with her transgender son. He never responded to her request. “I was hoping that he would have seen that his words have harmful negative effects on this dialogue that we are having with the rest of the country,” Briggle says. “Trans kids are here and they are normal.”
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Murphree told the Observer in late April that “my comments were meant for predators exploiting the policies. I've explained that I'm not targeting transgenders and would not target transgenders. I've explained that I'm against these policies because I believe it puts people in danger. I’m against these policies for safety reasons not gender identity reasons."
But Briggle doesn’t understand why Paxton and other Republican lawmakers are so hell-bent on discriminating against transgender people. She says her transgender son has always identified as a boy and that she and her husband Adam were the ones who had to transition to that reality.
She says she doesn’t necessarily have an agenda for inviting Paxton over for dinner, other than hoping that he’ll see there is nothing to be scared of. She says that if he had met her transgender son at a park, he would not have known her transgender son was designated female at birth. “I’m just trying to take this day by day,” Briggle says. “This is nobody’s business and should not be a political issue."