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GOP Lawmaker Claims He Had 'No Idea' Transphobic Meme Mocking Health Official Was Offensive

GOP Lawmaker Claims He Had 'No Idea' Transphobic Meme Mocking Health Official Was Offensive
RepPyle/YouTube; Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Democratic President Joe Biden recently nominated Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's Secretary of Health, for the position of Assistant Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary.

If confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first openly transgender person to hold a federal appointment.

Needless to say, some Republicans have handled this groundbreaking moment for the LGBTQ community with shameful transphobia.

One Pennsylvania lawmaker, Republican Jeffrey Pyle, shared a mocking meme on Facebook. The transphobic, insulting post was met with swift backlash.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly's LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus issued a formal statement in response:

"The members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly's LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus immediately call upon the leadership of the House Republican Caucus and the Speaker of the PA House to reprimand Rep. Jeff Pyle for his transphobic attack on Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, and Biden Assistant Secretary of Health-nominee, Dr. Rachel Levine."

"In a recent post to social media, Rep. Pyle made overt, hurtful, and dangerous attacks on Sec. Levine's gender identity as a Transgender person. The kind of discrimination and hatred displayed by Rep. Pyle aren't just antithetical to the values and morals established in our Constitution, they are a direct violation of the public trust afforded to him as a member of the General Assembly."

"Moreover, by attacking Sec. Levine in this way, Rep. Pyle has perpetuated both transphobia and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ communities which have among the highest rates of civil rights violations and discrimination in the nation, often with deadly consequences."

"By attacking Sec. Levine, Rep. Pyle has brought the House of Representatives into dishonor and disrepute and until his actions are addressed, he continues to place her, and hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ people in the Commonwealth at risk for further discrimination to attack."

"I [Caucus Chair Rep. Brian Skms] have conferred with my colleagues, members of the LGBTQ Caucus and the leadership of the Democratic Caucus, and all are in agreement that this discriminatory and dangerous behavior must be condemned by House Republican leadership."

"Homophobia and transphobia have no place in the General Assembly or in our commonwealth."

In his defense, Pyle claimed he had "no idea" the image would be "received as poorly as it was."

Pyle was rebuked by his colleagues in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, with some calling for his resignation.

Pennsylvanians were similarly critical of Pyle.

Many did not believe he simply didn't know his post was hurtful.

Others pointed out—like most powerful men caught behaving badly—Pyle failed to apologize for his actions.

He simply apologized his "joke" wasn't received better.

Such casual transphobia should never be acceptable from an elected representative.

It seems Jeffrey Pyle's reputation has taken a notable dip in the wake of this controversy, while Dr. Rachel Levine is expected to be confirmed to her position by the U.S. Senate very soon.