Outagamie County Board reprimands Supervisor Tim Hermes for trans comments
APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - With a Pride flag flying just outside the Outagamie County Administration building, the county board inside discussed a resolution to censure Supervisor Tim Hermes.
After intense discussion, the vote for censure was 21 to 8 for the comments Hermes made about trans people at a presentation by the county’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) officer:
“Don’t you think women have a right to their own bathrooms and not a man pretending to be a woman going into a bathroom?” he asked after the presentation on May 9. “I mean, that puts a lot of concerns for fathers who have a man in a dress with a woman’s face on. But when they go in the bathroom by a little girl or trying to change in their dressing rooms, I find that disgusting.” He also compared their actions to people dressing in blackface in the 1920s.
Since those comments, protestors have demanded that Hermes step down. Hermes told Action 2 News he isn’t transphobic or homophobic.
At the special board meeting Tuesday night, we attempted to ask Hermes if he wanted to clarify his May 9 comments. He told us he had no comment on what he said or the action being taken up by the board.
With the county board voting on whether to censure Hermes, people on both sides spoke out.
“In America we’re supposed to have freedom of speech. It needs to be free of intimidation. If there’s intimidation, it’s not free speech,” one of his supporters said.
“These kinds of words like the ones stated by Tim Hermes are all people who have never met trans people have to go off of, and it puts our lives in danger every day,” a person supporting the censure said.
We spoke to County Board Chair Jeff Nooyen prior to the meeting.
“It’s a public reprimand. We’re not censoring his beliefs. We’re not censuring his opinions. What we’re looking to censure is his behavior at the board meeting. Granted, he has the right to free speech, but with that right, as an elected official, there’s some responsibility to behave in a professional and dignified manner,” Nooyen said.
Nooyen told us Hermes made inappropriate comments about transgender people before, including a Wisconsin Counties Association meeting on diversity last August.
Hermes spoke just before Tuesday’s vote. While he said he doesn’t believe trans people are disgusting, he did double down on everything else he previously said.
Hermes was not allowed to vote on his censure. Six supervisors were absent from the vote.
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