A Kansas state lawmaker said she isn’t thrilled about having to share a restroom with her “huge” transgender Democratic colleague.
Rep. Cheryl Helmer made her stance known in an April 23 email to University of Kansas graduate student Brenan Riffel, who described themselves as trans-feminine, saying “personally I do not appreciate the huge transgender female who is now in our restrooms in the Capitol,” The Washington Times reported.
Helmer was referring to Rep. Stephanie Byers, the state’s first elected transgender lawmaker.
In response to the remarks, House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., a Kansas City-area Republican, said “it’s unfortunate those words were said.”
The email came as the GOP-controlled legislature is making efforts to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s K-12 and college sports.
Lawmakers in the state Senate recently voted 28-10 to override the veto. The House is expected to take a vote on the matter, though it was not clear when.
“We know this has been going on in offices, and back rooms and conversations since the day I was elected,” Byers said Tuesday, The Times reported. “The shocking part is that it came out, that someone actually said it.”
Helmer, 70, said she was in the Statehouse with a mother and her young daughter and Byers several months ago. She said the child was scared of Byers.
She said she mistakenly entered the men’s restroom in the House in 2021 and the men became upset. She said she asked them how would they like it if a woman regularly used their restroom, the report said.
She also said parents shouldn’t be allowed to change the gender of their children.
“You can’t lop a penis off and then expect, you know, a little boy to now live his life,” she said. “He’ll be in regret for the rest of his life.”
Byer said several lawmakers have moved away from her in the elevator and noted the Kansas GOP’s platform declares that “We believe God created two genders, male and female.”
In an interview with the news outlet, Riffel said Helmer’s comments weren’t surprising.
“The rhetoric against the LGBTQ community has been the same for years, that we’re a threat to society; we’re going to hurt people,” said Riffel. “I just want to go about and just be myself.”
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