Jazmina Saavedra, a Republican running to represent South Los Angeles in the House of Representatives, harassed a transgender woman in a Denny’s restroom.
Saavedra live streamed the whole encounter on Facebook on Tuesday, 15 May. In the video, she slams former President Obama’s support for trans people.
Wearing a Trump sweatshirt and carrying a selfie stick, Saavedra storms into the women’s restroom and starts yelling at an unidentified woman.
A man in the video, described as the manager at Denny’s, was already stationed in the women’s restroom, standing outside the stall where the trans woman was hiding.
‘Why [are] you using the ladies’ room?’ Saavedra screams at the trans woman from outside the stall.
‘You’re invading my privacy,’ the trans woman responds.
Saavedra retorts: ‘You’re invading my privacy because I am a woman!’
‘I’m in the toilet,’ the trans woman replies. ‘How am I invading your privacy?’
The manager attempts to get Saavedra to leave the restroom as she yells, ‘you’re violating my rights! You’re sick, stupid.’
While walking back to her table at the restaurant, Saavedra says, ‘So that guy violated my right to use the ladies’ room here. He’s saying he’s a lady. Stupid guy. I’m going to wait for him to get out of the restroom.’
Soon, she heads back to the women’s restroom and stands outside, aiming her camera at the door.
‘This is so stupid in California,’ Saavedra says to her Facebook viewers. ‘You let people say, “I’m a lady. He’s a man.” This is what the politicians, the sick politicians, approve. They put us in danger, a woman like me.’
A couple minutes later, the trans woman emerges from the restroom followed by the manager.
‘You’re invading my privacy,’ Saavedra says to the woman as she passes.
‘Excuse me? I was using the toilet. How did I invade your privacy?’ she responds.
The trans woman apparently recognized Saavedra from a previous encounter. In the video, she says Saavedra had followed her before.
‘Next time use the men’s room,’ Saavedra said as she followed the woman to the exit.
After the trans woman leaves the restaurant, Saavedra jokes about how she was ready to use her pepper spray. ‘I was looking for my stun gun.’
According to The Advocate, Saavedra denies knowing the woman she harassed. She also continued to misgender the woman while speaking to Advocate reporters.
‘I was feeling afraid of being inside the bathroom with a man,’ Saavedra told The Advocate. ‘I didn’t know he was gay [sic], I just heard the voice was a man. Another customer approached me and said that they were scared to go into the restroom because there was a voice of a man inside, and so I told the manager.’
The Advocate contacted Denny’s corporate communications department, but did not receive a response.
This particular Denny’s location was just about five miles from the Los Angeles LGBT Center, on Vermont Ave. and Wilshire Blvd.
‘[Harassing the trans woman] has nothing to do with the LGBT agenda, he’s a man, simple as that, we were afraid to be in the bathroom,’ Saavedra said, apparently not aware of the fact the T in LGBT stands for transgender.
‘I don’t even know if he was a transgender; he was a man talking with a man’s voice, it was a man. I was in danger, everyone was in danger. This is a family values issue. We put our little girls in danger, this is not safe for our families.’
There has never been a case of a transgender woman harassing or attacking someone in public restrooms in the United States.
In the last year, the United States, emboldened by the Trump administration, has introduced 125 anti-LGBTI bills. Many of them are aimed specifically at transgender people.
‘Ignorance is not the sole province of one party or political perspective,’ Los Angeles LGBT Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings said in a statement following the incident. ‘But the current Administration has emboldened people to express their ignorance and hatred in a way that is so odious and shameful that we are required time and again to actively resist.’
‘That a candidate for Congress can express such outrageous and callous disregard for another human being clearly demonstrates that she is not fit for public office. But just to be clear in case Ms. Saavedra does not get the message, ignorance, fear-mongering and harassment have no place in a country founded on principles of equality and mutual respect. On this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, let this candidate’s disgraceful behavior be a rallying cry for us all to stand up for what is right.’