DENTON — For the past six years, trans woman Kathryn Winters has proudly called Denton home; an inclusive town, she says, with a robust transgender population.
"They live, work, and play here in Denton," she says.
But the trans community and others were horrified this weekend to read what Republican candidate for Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree posted about the transgender bathroom issue.
The post reads: "This whole bathroom thing is craziness I have never seen. 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 that bathroom. He will then identify as a John Doe until he wakes up in what ever (sic) hospital he may be taken to. Your identity does not trump my little girls (sic) safety. I identify as a over protective father that loves his kids and would do anything to protect them."
The post garnered "Amens" and affirmations from many of his followers.
"I was shocked," Winters said.
Shocked, and fearful-- sentiments also shared by Kevin Jenkins, an LGBT activist and a trans man.
"When you have someone who’s looking to be elected as the head of a law enforcement agency who’s saying he himself would inflict violence on someone for simply being transgender and being in the bathroom that’s unspeakable, really," Jenkins says.
Murphree, who said he was out of town Monday, addressed the post with News 8 via telephone Monday.
"It was a mistake for me to post that," he said.
Murphree says while he doesn't support trans women using the same restroom as his daughter, he says that post was wrong.
"I regret saying I’m going to go ahead and assault someone," he said. "I will not do that without cause. That was a visceral reaction to protecting my daughter at the moment."
He says his post was in reaction to the bombardment of news about what's been happening at Target and in North Carolina.
"I'm glad he’s realized the mistake," Winters said.
However, Winters added, "It doesn’t take back what was said because those who follow him, those who support him, see those kinds of statements as an affirmation of violence."
Murphree does believe allowing men into women's restrooms in the name of equality gives pedophiles an easy excuse to go in as well. But the transgender community members we spoke to say they've been using restrooms all this time, without incident, calling Murphree's line of thinking "fear-mongering."
Both Jenkins and Waters say they'd like to invite Murphree for a sit-down discussion on the issue. Murphree says he would be willing to do that.