April 5, 2017 at 11:48 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Va. GOP gubernatorial candidates make anti-trans comments

Corey Stewart, gay news, Washington Blade

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart on April 1, 2017, said he would sign a House Bill 2-style bill if he is elected governor. (Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart on Saturday said he would sign a bill that is equivalent to North Carolina’s House Bill 2.

“As governor, I will absolutely prohibit any locality from doing any such thing and promoting transgenderism in any way, shape or form,” he said at a forum the Amherst County Republican Party sponsored. “It’s absolutely horrendously despicable.”

Stewart, the chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, ran President Trump’s Virginia campaign from December 2015 to October 2016. He made his comments in response to a question about gender-neutral bathrooms that the forum moderator asked.

“There are big economic issues that we’re facing, tax issues,” said Stewart. “But if we give up on our culture, if we give up on our heritage we’ve lost everything. That is why, with me as governor, you’re going to find the strongest advocate for Virginias heritage and values you’ve ever seen.”

Former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie and state Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) also participated in the forum.

“This isn’t about bathrooms alone,” said Gillespie, responding to the question about bathrooms. “It’s also about compelling teenage girls to share locker room showers with teenage boys. It’s about compelling teenage girls to have to stay in a hotel with a teenage boy or an overnight band trip.”

Wagner made a similar point.

“There are guys and there are girls,” he said. “There are guys rooms and there are girls rooms. Guys rooms are for men. Girls rooms are for ladies and girls.”

GayRVA posted a video of Wagner, Gillespie and Stewart’s remarks onto its website.

Candidates’ comments are ‘dangerous’

The forum took place two days after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a House Bill 2 replacement bill that LGBT rights advocates sharply criticized. Equality Virginia on Saturday honored Gavin Grimm — a transgender student at Gloucester County High School who filed a federal lawsuit against his school district’s policy prohibiting students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that don’t correspond with their “biological gender” — at its annual dinner.

Gillespie on Saturday applauded Trump’s decision to rescind the Obama administration’s guidance on how public schools should accommodate trans students.

“Everyone has concerns and issues but we cannot put at risk and at jeopardy our young children and teenage girls,” said Gillespie. “It goes to the sports’ teams as well and the fact is we should not compel teenage girls to share a locker room shower with or a hotel room overnight with a teenage boy.”

Danica Roem, a trans journalist who is running against state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County), in a statement said Stewart and Wagner “attacked their own constituents and they attacked children who call Virginia their home.” She also criticized Gillespie, who is the presumed Republican frontrunner in the race to succeed Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

“Transgender people are part of Virginia’s culture and social fabric just as much as anyone else,” said Roem in a statement. “Our mere presence in a restroom does not harm anyone.”

“It’s dangerous to single-out and stigmatize our residents with legislative priorities that perpetuate the false narrative that transgender people aren’t who we and our doctors say that we are,” she added. “It leads to dehumanization and violence against transgender people.”

Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam, who is running against former Congressman Tom Perriello in the Democratic race to succeed McAuliffe, strongly criticized HB 2.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael //

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