CRESSON — This is the story of barbecue, a bathroom and a cross-dressing cowboy.

In the tiny North Texas town of Cresson at BBQ on the Brazos — a locally famous restaurant known for its smoked brisket — a simple sign hangs on the women’s restroom door:

“No men allowed in the women’s bathroom please.”

The furthest thing from my mind was to see him in hot pants, a blouse and six-inch heels.

John Sanford, BBQ on the Brazos owner

At a glance, a visitor might assume the neatly typed sign was put up by folks at the barbecue place — or the Texaco gas station/convenience store that shares the building — as a knee-jerk reaction to the ongoing national debate over transgender issues.

But that’s not the whole story. According to the owner of BBQ on the Brazos, the community of about 1,000 residents a half-hour southwest of downtown Fort Worth has a specific beef with a cross-dressing cowboy who occasionally patronizes the place. The controversy goes back about two-and-a-half years, said John Sanford, who opened the restaurant in 2013.

“Before this gender thing got started, there’s a truck driver who comes in here who occasionally has on jeans and boots or occasionally has on a skirt and 6-inch stilettos,” Sanford said. “He’s a pickup man for rodeos. He picks up saddle bronc riders and bareback riders at some rodeos around here. The furthest thing from my mind was to see him in hot pants, a blouse and 6-inch heels.”

The sign was typed up, placed in a laminated cover and taped to the restroom door after several women who work at the restaurant and convenience store expressed concern about the man using their bathroom, he said.

“Everybody got together and said, we can’t have this guy going into the ladies restroom,” Sanford said. “I don’t care if he has on a dress or not.”

Sanford said the sign wasn’t put up as a protest of President Obama’s guidance for public schools to let students use the bathroom of their choice, regardless of which sex they were assigned at birth. In fact, it has been taped to the door for months.

But if visitors want to perceive the sign as a protest, Sanford said many residents of Cresson are probably fine with that.

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(c)2016 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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