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North Carolina gubernatorial candidate says trans women should be arrested over bathroom use

North Carolina gubernatorial candidate says trans women should be arrested over bathroom use

Two Republican candidates in North Carolina’s race for governor condemned the front-runner Monday for his comments about transgender people using the restroom.

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who is the leading Republican candidate ahead of the state’s primary for governor on March 5, implied at a campaign event this month that transgender women should be arrested if they use women’s restrooms.

“We’re going to defend women in this state,” he said in a speech at a campaign stop in Cary. “That means if you’re a man on Friday night and all of the sudden on Saturday, you feel like a woman and you want to go in the women’s bathroom in the mall, you will be arrested — or whatever we got to do to you.”

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Republican candidate for governor, at a rally Roxboro on Jan. 26.Chris Seward / AP file

At an event in Greenville, Robinson said people who “are confused” about their gender should “find a corner outside somewhere to go” to the bathroom.

“We’re not tearing society down because of this,” he added, seven years after North Carolina partly repealed HB 2, also known as the “bathroom bill,” which barred transgender people from using the restrooms and changing facilities that match their gender identities in most public spaces. The bill drew nationwide criticism and boycotts, and it was projected to cost the state billions.

Robinson’s two Republican opponents, state Treasurer Dale Folwell and attorney Bill Graham, criticized him.

“Mark Robinson is history’s latest example of someone rising to power through hate,” Folwell said in a written statement to NBC News. “If he really cared about NC or the Republican party he would resign now. If he wanted the Senate to run a piece of legislation to his liking, maybe he should show up more than 10% of the time.”

Alex Baltzegar, Graham’s spokesperson, said Robinson “will lose and hurt all Republican candidates if he is the nominee.” 

“His comments about the Holocaust being hogwash along with his demeaning comments about women will wreck GOP chances for regaining the White House and the Governorship here in North Carolina,” Baltzegar added in an emailed statement.

In 2018, Robinson shared an anti-gun-control post on Facebook that said, in part: “This foolishness about Hitler disarming MILLIONS of Jews and then marching them off to concentration camps is a bunch of hogwash.” And last year, speaking at a Charlotte-area church, he said Christians “are called to be led by men,” though he later appeared to backtrack, saying his remarks were meant to encourage men, not imply women couldn’t be leaders.

At a news conference in October, Robinson also downplayed his previous statements about Jews and the Holocaust. “There have been some Facebook posts that were poorly worded on my part,” he said, according to NBC affiliate WRAL of Raleigh. “There is no antisemitism standing here in front of you.”

Robinson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

He has also faced criticism for previous comments about LGBTQ people. In October 2021, multiple North Carolina representatives called for him to resign after a progressive advocacy group shared a video of him calling LGBTQ people “filth.”

John Wesley Waugh, a spokesperson for Robinson, said in an email at the time that Robinson’s comments “refer to education” and that “topics surrounding transgenderism and homosexuality should be discussed at home and not in public education.” 

Jo Yurcaba

Jo Yurcaba is a reporter for NBC Out.

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