Rep. Titone Implores Republicans to be Respectful to Others

Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada)

On Thursday in the State House of Representatives, a handful of Republican lawmakers strode to the podium during a discussion about the Equal Rights Amendment to barf out a litany of complaints about issues ranging from abortion to the very existence of transgender people. It was a disgusting breach of decorum and common decency from a Republican micro-minority that seems intent on crossing those lines at every available opportunity.

On Friday morning, Representative Brianna Titone (D-Arvada) requested a moment of personal privilege to reflect on her experiences on the House Floor on Thursday (Titone is serving in her third term after becoming the first transgender lawmaker in state history in 2019). Titone had a very simple point for her colleagues — particularly those on the Republican side such as Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf: If you can’t manage to look your colleague in the eye when you say something, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it at all.

You can watch Titone’s powerful and thoughtful speech below, or read the entire text that follows:


TITONE: I don’t know why a resolution on the Equal Rights Amendment…turned into demeaning, dismissive, and derogatory remarks about me and people like me, among other things.

Whether you like it or not, I am your colleague. Whether you believe me or people like me should exist, I do exist, and I am your equal in this chamber. I accomplished the same thing that you did to be here, and I proudly represent ALL of my constituents in the course of my work in this chamber. [Pols emphasis]

Obviously the decisions we make here are not ones that everyone can agree on. But I do my best to do the work that my constituents put me here to do every single day. I have no problem disagreeing, and accepting that we disagree on topics. But I won’t take my disagreement to the level of insulting and demeaning my colleagues. I believe in decorum and collegiality in this forum, and I believe in respect for people despite our differences. 

Yesterday I felt disrespected and diminished. Trans people are simply claiming our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But how can we have that when what you say tries to take that away from us? 

Today, I’m standing up for myself and people like me. For kids who are like me. For YOUR constituents who are like me – who you refuse to acknowledge. I would like to see ways we can disagree without being disrespectful. I would like to see us be able to disagree and look each other in the eyes when we say these things. If we can acknowledge the pain that we cause each other by ignoring it, we shouldn’t be saying the things we are saying. 

I sat in my chair listening and looking at colleagues – in the eyes – as they said demeaning, dismissive things to me…which felt like a VERY long time. But I got no eye contact back. Why? Can you not disagree with my existence in your presence and not look me in the eye? By the way, my existence is not up for debate. It’s not something you can disagree away, and I will not let anyone – in this chamber or outside this chamber – bully or intimidate me out of my existence. Not today, and not EVER. 

That facts still remain that what was said yesterday was dangerous rhetoric that harms people and encourages bullying. If you also recognized that this rhetoric was harmful, enough to reach out to me afterwards, I hope that next time you will find it within yourself to call it out in the moment for what it is.

I have had many conversations with people inside and outside of this body who disagree with me – with people who have said they have a problem with me being in the bathroom with them. People who don’t understand why I am the way that I am. And people who fundamentally disagree with me on certain issues.

My approach? I ask them questions, with empathy. I want to understand why they feel that way. Although I am the one in the position of [being] less-privileged, the one facing the hardship, I ask THEIR feelings and their positions. Very few people bother to ask me about me. Many of you think, what could I possibly have in common with THAT person. Many of you don’t care to know or want to know about people different from you because if you did, I think it would be a lot harder for you to say the hurtful things that were said yesterday from this well. 

We have been granted great power and responsibility with the badges we bestow on our lapels. This was entrusted by the people of Colorado to conduct ourselves in this chamber with decorum and respect to debate – not denigrate. I ask you to use your power wisely. Our relationships are built on trust and mutual respect. We don’t just speak to the TV cameras. We speak here to our colleagues, to our constituents, and to the young people – and the words that we say affect me, us, and them.

I implore all of you to think about the words and consider whether or not you can look your colleagues, or your constituents, in the eye when you say these things directly to them. If you can’t, I would suggest that you find kinder ways to disagree, and foster a better environment for everyone who walks these hallowed halls and those who observe us here. [Pols emphasis]

There is nothing more we need to add here.

7 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. spaceman2021 says:

    Those bigoted asshats don't deserve to share the space with her.  

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    This is a remarkable balance of personal defense, appeal for better behavior, and a reminder of what a legislature ought to be.


  3. The realist says:

    Thanks for posting this. Just excellent.

  4. Southwest Denver Dem says:

    Good for Rep. Titone for calling out those awful and disgusting R’s. And they’re still confused about why they’re becoming more and more irrelevant.

  5. Duke Cox says:

    Very humbly and eloquently expressed. If the honorable Rep. Titone should run for a statewide office, I am a supporter.

  6. Chickenheed says:

     I will not let anyone… bully or intimidate me out of my existence. Not today, and not EVER. 

    I love this part a lot.

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