By Seth Daniel
Councillor Luis Tejada apologized publicly on Monday night, June 20, at the conclusion of the Council meeting regarding a Facebook post he wrote two weeks ago regarding the safety of children and women in light of the passage of the transgender ‘bathroom bill.’
“I want to make an apology,” he said. “About two weeks ago, before Orlando, I made a posting on Facebook that was inappropriate. It was about the LGBT community; it was about the issue with transgender persons and bathrooms. I apologize that my words hurt people. I meant no harm. My intentions were pure.”
The post, which has been deleted and is not available any longer, discusses transgender persons having a ‘gender identity disorder’ and also talks about concerns he had if a ‘transgender guy’ would go into the same bathroom as his 21-year-old daughter.
In an open letter to Councillor Tejada, resident John Valinch challenged the posting – a letter that Valinch read publicly at the Council on Monday before the apology.
“Your statement that transgender individuals have a ‘gender identity disorder’ is ludicrous and not, in fact, borne out by relevant medical literature,” he said. “As for your statement that you have ‘lots of bi and gay friends,’ it may astound you that we, too, were labeled by the same psychiatric manual, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, as mentally ill. This continued up until 1987. Perhaps you are unaware of this, or choose to ignore it to fit your political narrative that transgender people are intrinsically criminal, deviant, or mentally ill. You would be wrong to continue doing so.
“Second, you insinuated that if a ‘transgender guy’ were to go in the same bathroom as your 21 year-old daughter that you would be soon to follow,” he continued. “Two things about your statement are problematic and, in fact, promote both grave misunderstanding and violence towards trans people: an individual who identifies as a trans male would not go into a restroom designated for women and; you are prompting violence against individuals for using the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Remember, we are not talking about individuals that are falsifying an identity for nefarious purposes, but are instead attempting to live out their lives according to their identity.”
Tejada did also say on Monday he still has concerns about what is being done in the wake of the new law to protect girls and women – as well as to protect transgender persons from violence enacted upon them.
“Not all girls are in the same place,” he said. “Some are being bullied and some are being molested. What is being done to protect young girls?…As far as the transgender community, I want to know what in the bill to protect them from bad people.”
Once again, though, he did apologize for his words.
“If I hurt you with my words, then I apologize,” he said. “If you have a problem with my words, just get in touch with me. We can talk and maybe let’s agree to disagree. Sometimes you can’t agree with all my points. It’s America. We can disagree. I want to apologize and meant no harm.”