Rep. Webster Barnaby apologizes for calling transgender people 'mutants' and 'demons'

Republican Florida lawmaker rebukes transgender community as 'demons and imps' during committee hearing
Florida Reps. Jason Shoaf and Webster Barnaby chat during legislative session, April 30, 2021
Posted at 11:46 AM, Apr 11, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Republican Florida lawmaker has apologized after he referred to transgender people as "mutants" and "demons" during a legislative hearing Monday in Tallahassee.

State Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deland, was defending a bill that would prevent transgender people from using bathrooms that don't align with their birth sex.

Barnaby's comments came after members of the transgender community voiced their opposition to CS/HB 1521, which would create the "Safety in Private Spaces Act."

Speaking during a House Commerce Committee hearing, Barnaby said "it's like I'm watching an X-Men movie" with "mutants living among us on planet Earth."

"Some people don't like that, but that's a fact," Barnaby said. "We have people that live among us today on planet Earth that are happy to display themselves as if they were mutants from another planet. This is the planet Earth, where God created men, male, and women, female."

Barnaby went on to describe himself as "a proud, Christian conservative Republican."

"I'm not on the fence," he said.

Barnaby said the bill is about protecting children.

"I'm not on the fence – not one bit," he said.

Barnaby said he was "offended that people can come before this committee and try to intimidate us and try to strike fear into us."

"It's time to push back," he continued.

Barnaby referred to gender dysphoria as "evil" and said he was "not afraid to address the dysphoria or the dysfunction."

"The Lord rebuke you, Satan, and all of your demons and all of your imps who come parade before us," Barnaby said. "That's right, I called you demons and imps who come and parade before us and pretend that you are part of this world. So, I'm saying my righteous indignation is stirred. I am sick and tired of this. I'm not going to put up with it. You can test me and try to take me on, but I promise you, I'll win every time."

Barnaby later offered an apology.

Equality Florida issued a statement Monday condeming Barnaby's remarks:

"Today, parents and children, many of whom traveled hours to share their stories, had to listen to GOP state Rep. Barnaby slander the transgender community from the dais, and Republican leadership in the room refused to put a stop to it. This hideous bigotry has always been at the root of the wave of anti-LGBTQ hysteria sweeping our state. The agenda of (Gov. Ron) DeSantis and his legislative cronies has always been aimed at empowering this brand of bigotry and dehumanizing the LGBTQ community. Shame on Rep. Barnaby for spewing his transphobic vitriol, and shame on Chair (Bob) Rommel for sitting idly by and allowing it to happen."

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said on Twitter that Barnaby "is an embarrassment to Volusia County and to the state of Florida."