Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke was skewered online for proudly wearing a "Don't mess with trans kids" shirt.
On Thursday, O'Rourke posted a photo on social media of himself wearing the controversial T-shirt promoting transgender children that has the colors of the Texas state flag on it.
The slogan refers to the successful "Don't mess with Texas" campaign initiated by the Texas Department of Transportation to convince Texans not to litter by featuring ads with celebrities such as blues musician Stevie Ray Vaughan, country singer-songwriter Willie Nelson, and actor Matthew McConaughey.
O'Rourke was quickly lampooned on social media for advocating for children to change their gender. Numerous Twitter reactions advised O'Rourke to "not mess with any kids."
Lawyer and podcaster David Freiheit: "Beto O’Rourke doesn’t appreciate that he just made a compelling argument against hormone therapy for kids."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw: "How about this, progressives: Don’t mess with kids."
Conservative activist Chris Barron: "Hi Beto, how about just don't mess with kids. Like don't encourage them to engage in genital mutilation or in unnecessary hormone therapy."
Political writer Ian Haworth: "'Don't mess with trans kids, so let them mutilate themselves' is one hell of a hill to die on."
Conservative commentator John Cardillo: "Yeah, this will really resonate with Texans."
Conservative digital creator Benny Johnson: "This should do wonders for your poll numbers."
Senior policy analyst at Independent Women's Forum Inez Stepman: "Adult men fangirling over 'trans kids' is extremely creepy."
Conservative activist Kambree Nelson: "Interesting, not Hispanic but Irish Robert Francis, the only ones who want to mess with Trans kids are liberals. I wonder why? I can't figure out the obsession of children with the left, especially Robert Francis concern with another person's childs sexual orientation... kids should be left alone."
Republican communicator Matt Whitlock: "Hopefully someone in the media will have an opportunity to ask him to expand on what this is in response to, and what his policy prescription is."
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.): "Robert Francis in six months: No one is sexualizing your children."
Second Amendment advocate Dana Loesch: "Are you still going to take all our semi-automatic rifles like you promised?"
Conservative commentator Anna Khait: "Don’t mess with our Constitution."
Fixed it for you. Don\u2019t mess with kids PERIOD.pic.twitter.com/kppwAhBXIa— Kristi Leigh (@Kristi Leigh) 1648742883
O'Rourke shared the photo on Transgender Day of Visibility — an "awareness day" created in 2010 by trans advocates in an effort to "celebrate the lives and contributions of trans people, while also drawing attention to the poverty, discrimination, and violence the community faces," according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
The Biden administration celebrated Transgender Day of Visibility by endorsing sex-change surgeries and cross-sex hormone substitutions for minors.
O'Rourke – who had previous failed bids for the Senate and presidency – is running against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in the Texas gubernatorial race.
In February, Abbott ordered state agencies to investigate reports of children being administered puberty blockers and hormone therapy, as well as allegations of "sex change" procedures on minors. Certain medical and chemical sex change procedures performed on children are classified as "abuse," according to Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
"Texas law imposes reporting requirements upon all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such child abuse," Abbott wrote in a letter to the Department of Family and Protective Services.
Last month, O'Rourke diminished Abbott as a "thug" and "oligarch." He also suggested a statewide gun buyback program.
In 2019, then-presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said he wanted to ban and confiscate "assault weapons" and create a national gun registry.