Republican Kansas state Rep. Cheryl Helmer said she does not “appreciate” having to share a bathroom with her “huge” transgender colleague, a biological male.
Helmer made the remarks about Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Byers, the state’s first transgender lawmaker, in an April 23 email to 25-year-old University of Kansas graduate student Brenan Riffel, saying, “now, personally I do not appreciate the huge transgender female who is now in our restrooms in the Capitol,” the Washington Times reported.
The Kansas Republican Party platform stated, “we believe God created two genders, male and female,” according to the Times.
Riffel, who identifies as “trans-feminine,” exposed the email to the Kansas Reflector, a nonprofit news organization, the outlet reported. The graduate student told the Times that Helmer’s comments reflected the same rhetoric that has spewed for years.
“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,” Riffel said. “I just want to go about and just be myself.”
Holscher references Rep. Cheryl Helmer’s emails, revealed yesterday, saying she doesn’t appreciate sharing a bathroom w/ KS’ 1st openly transgender representative. Holscher says it’s bills like this/comments like this that keep biz from investing in Kansas. #kakenews #ksleg #ksed
— Pilar Pedraza TV (@PilarPedrazaTV) April 26, 2022
Byers called Helmer’s statement “shocking,” but said conversations have quietly been had between lawmakers since entering office, the outlet reported.
“We know this has been going on in offices, and back rooms and conversations since the day I was elected,” Byers said. “The shocking part is that it came out, that someone actually said it.” (RELATED: ‘Hateful Conduct’: Twitter Locks Rep. Jim Banks Account For Calling Rachel Levine A Man)
Helmer doubled down on her comments Tuesday while co-sponsoring a bill to ban gender reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments for minors, the outlet reported. She said in a Monday interview that she was in the Statehouse with Byers, a mother and her young daughter, who she said was afraid of Byers.
She also said children undergoing reassignment surgeries will be in “regret” it for the rest of their lives.
“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.”
Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., a Republican, called the comments “unfortunate,” while executive director of Equality Kansas, Tom Witt, called on Helmer to be censured for her “toxic bigotry,” the outlet reported.
The Kansas Senate voted 28-10 to override Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a ban on biological men competing in women’s sports in K-12 and college athletics, the outlet reported. A vote is expected to occur in the House in the near future.
Several lawmakers have moved away from their transgender colleague in the elevator, Byers said, according to the Times.