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GOP Candidate Harasses Occupant of Bathroom Stall, Livestreams Encounter

by Kilian Melloy
Friday May 18, 2018

How's this for a DIY attack ad?

A Republican congressional candidate grabbed her phone and headed for the women's room at a Denny's restaurant when she heard a possible transgender person was using the facility, reports news service UPI.

The candidate, Jazmina Saavedra, posted video of herself barging into the restroom, where a man stood outside a stall. But it's not the man standing visibly in the open Saavedra is worried about - rather, it's the individual who's ensconced within the stall, which is equipped with a floor-to-ceiling partition. Thrusting her lens toward the stall, Saavedra commences to upbraid the individual, who protests at the invasion of privacy.

"No, you're invading my privacy because I'm a woman and I deserve to use the ladies room!" the GOP candidate, who is in contention for office representing California's 44th district, screams in reply. She goes on to call the individual "sick" and "stupid."

The video runs more than seven minutes. Much of that time consists of Saavedra hanging around outside the restroom, taking video of the closed door. After a while video shows the GOP candidate venturing briefly back into the restroom. At one point she declaims that the individual using the facilities is "endangering the family," though no justification is given for the claim.

When the individual emerges from the woman's restroom close to the video's halfway point and is captured by Saavedra's waiting lens, the individual earlier glimpsed standing outside the occupied stall also appears and seems to be escorting the patron out of the restaurant. As the individual is hustled out of the Denny's, Saavedra hurls further abuse and then looks into the lens with an expression of satisfaction. The GOP candidate then returns to her table and holds forth about the encounter, showing off pepper spray and a stun gun, and declaring, "Only in California!"

The Democrat who currently holds the seat Saavedra is trying to win, Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, addressed the incident, telling local news station KABC that she was "appalled" by the way Saavedra treated the individual at the Denny's restaurant.

"Everyone has the right to their own identity, and the right not be discriminated against for who they are," Barragán said.

News station ABC7 reported that Saavedra countered with a claim that her actions had not been discriminatory, saying, "...this is nothing to do about gay or nothing. This is about how myself and the other customers feel in danger by hearing a voice of a man inside."

In a followup video also posted to Facebook, Saavedra returns to the Denny's restaurant where the encounter took place, insisting, "I'm not a homophobic [sic]," and adding - despite the armaments she showed off in the first video - "but I was in danger."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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