An Ohio politician has outraged residents with a billboard attacking transgender people.
Jay Linn, city council president in Olmsted Falls, routinely uses the signs outside his mechanic shop to get a rise out of passersby. Recently Lin, owner of Northridge Auto Repair and Service, used the board to declare “If you don’t know who you identify as pull down your pants and look.”
Linn, 61, says he doesn’t care if he’s offending people. His brother in Michigan is gay and has been with the same man for 39 years, he tells The Chronicle, and they still see visit each other.
“I don’t share his views in sexuality, and he doesn’t share mine. But we’re brothers.”
His shop is only four miles from where Cemia Dove, a transgender woman, was brutally murdered in 2013. Dove was stabbed 40 times by a man who discovered she was transgender. He then dumped her body in a pond near his apartment.
Linn said murder is never justifiable, but he won’t apologize for his belief that gender is determined by God and is immutable.
“You don’t need to identify with anything except what God put you here as,” Linn said. “The message is that I identify as what God made me and put me here as and nothing else.”
Locals have criticized his sign on social media, and at least two stood outside his shop protesting on Friday. Retired teachers Kari Foreman and Richard Gast held signs reading “Light and Love Will Prevail.”
“I can accept political signs, but I cannot accept blatant discrimination and ignorance,” said Gast. “This one just pushed me over the edge. The present political climate is what’s allowing people like him to do these things and think it’s okay.”
Foreman said she has friends and former students in the LGBT community. “[For us] to say nothing is to tolerate hate, in my opinion.”
Linn says his new sign hasn’t cost him any business—and may have even landed him some new customers.
“There’s been 30 or 40 people who have stopped in today, taken business cards and told me what great signs I do. They’ve stopped in, shook our hands and said keep up the great work. A couple made appointments for cars.”