For transgender woman Paula Schonauer, the sign displayed at the entrance of Oklahoma City’s Steak and Catfish Barn is frightening.
It reads, “We do not have a transgender bathroom. So don’t be caught in the wrong one.”
“That sign has an implied threat, and a threat that’s very real to me,” Schonauer told KFOR-TV.
Troy Stevenson of Freedom Oklahoma said the message of the sign — which has been displayed for about 10 months, the station said — is un-American.
“You’ve got this sign implying a threat of potential violence against somebody for going to pee,” he told KFOR. “That’s not the Oklahoma standard. That’s not what it means to be American. That’s just wrong.”
The owner of the Steak and Catfish Barn told the station he means no threat by the sign. In fact, Bob Warner told KFOR he wants to protect everybody in his restaurant: “I don’t want to see nobody hurt.”
“We have a lot of redneck guys that come in here. Truck drivers and everything,” he said to the station. “They’re big, husky guys, and I said, ‘Man alive! If their wife or their little girl walked in that bathroom, and a man followed them in there, I wouldn’t have a restaurant.’ “
KFOR asked Warner if the sign means transgender people can’t use the bathroom, and Warner replied that they can as long as they’re dressed appropriately, the station said.
While Schonauer said she’s “disturbed” by the sign and it’s “really a let down,” she told KFOR she hopes the controversy can educate others.
“It’s an opportunity to show sometimes what transgender people deal with on a daily basis, unfortunately,” Schonauer told the station, “but it’s also a time to put out the word and rally our support.”