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An Anti-Mask Lawmaker Took A Statement About Transphobia And Replaced "LGBTQ" With "Unmasked"

Pennsylvania state Rep. Russ Diamond copied Dr. Rachel Levine's statement about anti-trans harassment word for word, but replaced "LGBTQ" with "unmasked."

Posted on July 30, 2020, at 3:43 p.m. ET

Rachel Wisniewski / Reuters

Pennsylvania state Rep. Russ Diamond speaking at a protest against the state's extended stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of the coronavirus in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 20.

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A member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives put out a statement on Wednesday that criticized "hateful comments toward [the] unmasked community," but which also subtly mocked a transgender state health official.

Republican Rep. Russ Diamond, who is vehemently opposed to wearing masks to protect against the coronavirus despite overwhelming medical advice to the contrary, said in his statement that he feels he "must personally respond to the multiple incidents of harassment and specifically hate and intolerance directed at me."

"Your actions perpetuate a spirit of intolerance and discrimination against unmasked individuals and specifically individuals like myself who are outspoken about it."

Diamond's language was almost identical to a statement given Tuesday by Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, a trans woman.

Statement on Hateful Comments Toward Unmasked Community

In her remarks on Tuesday, Levine spoke out about the numerous anti-trans incidents she has recently experienced in her role.

At a fair earlier this July, a man dressed up as Levine to sit in the dunk tank, according to CBS Pittsburgh. In May, a reporter repeatedly called Levine "sir" at a press conference, prompting her to have to tell him "please don't misgender me," PennLive reported.

"I want to emphasize that while these individuals may think they are only expressing their displeasure with me, they are in fact hurting the thousands of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians who suffer directly from these current demonstrations of harassment," Levine said in her statement.

Joe Hermitt / AP

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine

โ€œIn addition, the most vulnerable among us continue to suffer including, LGBTQ individuals of color, LGBTQ youth and seniors, and LGBTQ immigrants," Levine said. โ€œTransgender women of color continue to be not only harassed but are more likely to suffer violence and even murder. We have not made progress unless we have all made progress. It is in this space that these acts of intolerance live and where we need to continue to work against intolerance and discrimination."

Diamond's statement was nearly an exact copy-and-pasted version of Levine's, but with "unmasked" replacing "LGBTQ."

โ€œIn addition, the most vulnerable among us continue to suffer including, unmasked individuals of color, unmasked youth and seniors, and unmasked immigrants," Diamond said. "We have not made progress unless we have all made progress. It is in this space that these acts of intolerance live and where we need to continue to work against intolerance and discrimination."

Diamond and Levine did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.

Gov. Tom Wolf condemned Diamond's statement on Thursday, calling it a "thinly veiled attack" on both Levine and the LGBTQ community. He urged Republican House leaders to formally censure him.

"Abhorrent, disrespectful, dangerous," Wolf said. "There are no words that adequately describe my disdain for the antics Rep. Diamond displayed in his latest missive."

Gov. Wolf also spoke out against opposition to masks, saying "virtually no thinking person disputes mask-wearing as an effective means to stop the spread of COVID."

"Proud non-mask-wearers such as Rep. Diamond are not displaying their freedom, but rather their ignorance and lack of respect for themselves, their families, neighbors and communities when they donโ€™t wear a mask, and are likely leading to more spread of this dangerous virus," he said.

โ€œTo equate any disrespect for those not wearing masks to the decades of disrespect, threats and violence against our LGBTQ community goes far beyond the hallmarks of a decent society," he added. "For these actions to come from a legislator elected to fairly represent all his constituents is simply unforgivable."

Diamond responded to Wolf on Thursday, again mirroring the statement's language, calling Wolf "abhorrent, unlawful, political, and deadly."

He also called on Wolf to resign "right after you fire Levine."

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