North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R), the leading GOP candidate for governor, said the government should arrest transgender people if they use bathrooms of their choice at a campaign rally earlier this month.
Video of the rally, first reported by The Washington Post, shows Robinson going on a tirade against the rights of transgender women.
“We’re going to defend women in this state,” he said. “That means if you’re a man on Friday night, and all of a sudden Saturday you feel like a woman and you want to go in the women’s bathroom in the hall, you will be arrested — or whatever we got to do to you.”
In another video from the same day, he told a crowd that “if you are confused [about which bathroom to use], find a corner outside somewhere. I’m sorry, we’re not tearing society down because of this.”
Transgender rights, specifically over bathrooms, have long been a rife political topic in North Carolina. The Tar Heel State was the first to attempt to ban transgender people from using the public bathroom of their choice in 2017. That law was repealed after a compromise by state legislators, but a later version was thrown out by a federal judge in 2019.
Robinson leads in early polls for the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary. He was endorsed by former President Trump in June, and holds a significant fundraising lead over opponents.
Democrats have attacked Robinson as a radical, calling attention to a series of controversial comments on topics ranging from calling members of the LGBTQ community “filth” to calling the Holocaust “hogwash.”
Transgender issues have become a political flash point in GOP circles, specifically focusing on bathrooms and education. The number of laws targeting LGBTQ people in the U.S. has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing by about 60 percent from 2022 to 2023 alone, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU warned last month that over 275 anti-LGBTQ bills have already been introduced in state legislatures for the 2024 session.