GOP state lawmaker in KS takes issue with sharing restroom with ‘huge’ transgender Dem colleague

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Kansas State Representative Cheryl Helmer (R) has caused a stir in the Sunflower State’s legislature after she penned an email in which she expressed her concern over sharing the women’s bathroom with her “huge” transgender Democratic colleague.

She reportedly wrote an April 23 email to University of Kansas graduate student Brenan Riffel, who is evidently “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.

The female she made reference to is Kansas State Rep. Stephanie Byers (D), the state’s first elected transgender lawmaker.

“We know this has been going on in offices, and back rooms and conversations since the day I was elected,” Byers said Tuesday. “The shocking part is that it came out, that someone actually said it.”

Republican House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. said of Helmer’s concerns, “it’s unfortunate those words were said.”

Helmer’s email comes on the heels of lawmakers in the state voting 28-10 to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a bill that would prohibit biological males from competing in women’s sports in grades K-12 as well as at the collegiate level.

In her email, Helmer also defended a bill which she co-sponsors that would declare it a felony for doctors to perform transgender surgery or provide hormones for children under 18.

When asked on Monday about her stance, she firmly contended, “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.”

Several months ago, the 70-year-old Helmer was in the Statehouse with a mother and her young daughter. Helmer recalled the girl was frightened by the presence of Byers. She also related a 2021 instance in which she entered the men’s restroom in the House building either by mistake or intentionally to prove a point. The men, she alleged, were surprised and upset, so she asked them how they would feel if they had to deal with a woman coming into their restroom on a daily basis.

At least 15 states have passed legislation or implemented executive orders that ban transgender athletes from competing in sports that are comprised of athletes of the opposite sex.

Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, called on the Kansas House to censure Helmer, though it would require at least one additional complaint and a two-thirds majority vote to succeed, according to The Times.

“It is a new level of toxic bigotry that I have not seen in this building before,” Witt said.

The Kansas Republican Party’s most recent platform draft in 2018 declares that “We believe God created two genders, male and female.” Given that proclamation, the trans-feminine Byers claims some men have physically distanced themselves from her when on the elevators in the Statehouse.

In her email to Riffel, Helmer wrote, “A doctor can inject meds and dilute but cannot destroy what God has done in the perfection of the HUMAN BEING.”

“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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