Lawmaker Dismisses Anti-Trans Violence as ‘Dudes Walking Around in Dresses Getting Beat Up’


'We're Not Going to Allow Government Funds or Government Buildings to Be Used for Social Engineering'

A Republican Texas state lawmaker on Tuesday dismissed concerns about anti-transgender violence by saying "dudes walking around in dresses getting beat up" wasn't a problem when he was younger. 

Tea party state Rep. Briscoe Cain made the comment in response to a question about his support for Senate Bill 6, one of Texas' two anti-transgender bathroom bills

During a panel discussion featuring Cain and two other state lawmakers, the Texas Tribune's Evan Smith noted that the transgender community considers SB 6 discriminatory.

"You say in response to that, what?" Smith asked Cain.  

"At your own risk, but we shouldn't be penalizing people," Cain responded, presumably referring to potential penalties for businesses that violate trans-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances. "It wasn't a problem when I was a child. Was it a problem when you were a kid? I don't remember dudes walking around in dresses getting beat up. It wasn't a thing, and now I think we're encouraging it."

Last year, LGBT issues came up during Cain's GOP primary, in which he eventually defeated longtime incumbent state Rep. Wayne Smith, who's considered an establishment Republican. 

A campaign flier attacking Cain suggested that he's gay, and referenced Houston voters' decision to repeal the city's Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). Smith denied responsibility for the flier: 

"Houston voters want to keep men out of women's locker rooms and restrooms," the flier stated. "District 128 voters should keep Briscoe Cain out of men's restrooms as well." 

The flier, which included several photos of Cain as well as an image of two men kissing outside a public restroom, alleged he was "well known to those who frequent Montrose area night clubs and gay bars," referring to the city's gay neighborhood. 

Cain, then 31, told the Houston Chronicle that photos of him in the flier likely were taken from his MySpace page when he was much younger. 

Also during Tuesday's discussion, Smith asked Cain what problem SB 6 is attempting solve. 

"There is a real problem, which is laws here in Texas in certain cities ... that want to force public accommodations, to force private businesses to accommodate someone deciding to go into the bathroom ..." Cain responded. "[SB 6] is just to say, 'Look, we're not going to allow government funds or government buildings to be used for social engineering." 

Cain's published contact information: 512-463-0733, [email protected], or

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