A lawmaker in Arizona compared transgender people to barnyard animals in a committee hearing last week. State Representative John Fillmore made the inflammatory comparison in response to the comments of parents of transgender and nonbinary children providing testimony during debate on his proposed House Bill 2575, which would allow only binary gender options of male and female on official government documents and identification.
“I mean, what’s going to happen when some day someone wakes up and they want to go to a far extreme and identify as a chicken or something, for crying out loud,” Fillmore in the videotaped hearing. “Where do we draw the line?”
One parent testifying was left shaken by Fillmore’s statements. Megan Mogan had just testified about the impact HB 2575 would have on her nonbinary child when Fillmore made the comments.
“I don't think you have to be the parent of a nonbinary person, you can just be the parent of anyone, and if someone dehumanizes your child, it's like one of the worst possible feelings you can have,” Mogan told NBC News of Fillmore’s hateful remarks.
Fillmore explained to the committee he introduced the HB 2575 to “give clarity in government documents” and that he was hoping to avoid the “whole gender identity issue on the gender dysphoria.” He also attempted to differentiate between people who “wanted to transgender from male to female” and had undergone “the actual operation or whatever it was for the transition from one to the other” from those who simply woke up and wanted to “identify as a chicken or something” to the shock of listeners.
“The gender dysphoria to me is more of a psychological approach to a person’s feelings as to where they are on the sexual things,” he said, which he feels “creates situations I don’t think are beneficial to society and the nuclear family as a whole.”
His comments resulted in swift condemnation from fellow lawmakers and citizens alike.
“I was angry,” State Representative Stahl Hamilton told KPNX News, noting “there were three moms who made themselves very vulnerable and put their families in the public arena” listening to Fillmore’s comments.
Former Democratic campaign staffer Riley Behrens told NBC News the House Democrats he was speaking with were “all just in shock” at Fillmore’s comments. He filed a complaint against Fillmore for “discriminatory and harassing comments during public testimony” and for comparing “members of the LGBTQ+ community to farm animals.
Fillmore issued a statement calling the complaint “without merit” and saying his comments have been “unfairly and grossly mischaracterized.” He invited people to listen to his “actual remarks” which he believes “do not remotely match the distorted version critics have alleged.”
He later told NBC News in an email he thought the situation was “just childish silly” and questioned “how can a society have a reasonable discussion about anything if for instance they feel the word ‘blue’ is in fact ‘red’ to them, and then add the word ‘green’ to the color ‘yellow,’ now try to go have an intelligent conversation with an oil artistic painter.”