Restaurant's transgender bathroom sign garners support, angers others

The Steak and Catfish Barn in Oklahoma City.

The Steak and Catfish Barn in Oklahoma City.  (Google Maps)

A restaurant in Oklahoma City has found itself in the middle of a national debate over who can use what bathrooms after a sign in the eatery went viral online. 

In 2016, the Steak and Catfish Barn, which bills itself as a family friendly all-American steakhouse, posted a sign near its bathroom area stating “We do not have a transgender bathroom. So don’t be caught in the wrong one.”

The sign was signed “Thank you, Bob."

That is "Bob" is Bob Warner, the 82-year-old owner of the restaurant.

Though KFOR reports that the sign has been up for nearly 10 months, it was only recently noticed by Freedom Oklahoma, a statewide political advocacy organization that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights.

"You've got this sign implying a threat of potential violence against somebody for going to pee," executive director for Freedom Oklahoma, Troy Stevenson told KFOR.

"That's not the Oklahoma standard. That's not what it means to be American. That's just wrong."

Since bringing awareness to the sign earlier this month, Freedom Oklahoma has sparked a major debate across social media; many critics of the sign have expressed their disgust.

But others are showing support for the restaurant's decision to publicly take a stand on a controversial issue.

Warner says that the sign was more of a heads up to transgender guests, who could potentially want to make use of the bathroom facilities.

"I got to thinking, 'I have a lot of redneck guys that weigh 250 pounds or more, and if somebody that was dressed like a man when their wife was in there or their little girl, I would not have a restaurant left," Warner said of his reasoning to NonDoc.

"Because that guy would go in there and tear my restaurant to pieces."

Warner also said that he could only afford two bathrooms and couldn’t budget construction of a third for transgender guests. But he did say they would be welcome in the establishment if they were “dressed appropriately.” The owner has not clarified what he meant by appropriate clothing for transgender women or men. 

The Steak and Catfish barn was not immediately available for comment.