A Republican state lawmaker in Florida apologized Monday after calling transgender people «fiends» and «mutants» at a legislative hearing.
State Rep. Webster Barnaby had lashed out at transgender people earlier that day at a Commerce Committee hearing on the Security in Private Spaces Act, an invoice that would criminalize the use of bathrooms that match people’s gender identities when the bathrooms do not match their «biological sex.»
Barnaby, who referred to himself as a conservative Christian, strongly defended the bill, saying he was «not on the fence» about what it would do.
«We have people living among us today on planet Earth who are happy to show themselves as mutants from another planet. This is planet Earth with men, men and women, created by God,» he said.
«That’s right, I called them demons and imps who come and parade before us and pretend they are part of this world,» he added.
Barnaby later offered an apology.
“I would like to apologize to the trans community for referring to you as demons,” he said.
Barnaby, who was first elected to the Florida House in 2020, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.
In recent years, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the GOP-dominated state Legislature have enacted laws banning classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools, with related measures under consideration during the current legislative session.
Last month, Florida joined more than half a dozen other states in restricting transition-related health care for minors. The Florida Board of Medicine promulgated a rule banning minors from starting puberty blockers or hormone therapy, prompting backlash from parents of transgender youth in the state.