A Kansas legislator said she does not “appreciate the huge transgender female who is now in our restrooms in the Capitol,” seeming to refer to her only transgender colleague.
State Rep. Cheryl Helmer made the statement in an email with a University of Kansas graduate student, who voiced his displeasure with her support of a bill that would prevent doctors from performing gender reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy on minors.
Helmer responded with an extended email Saturday, saying she was a biology major in college and understands "the difference biologically between a male and a woman" and that no "surgeon can cut, remove, wop, add to change the biology that is chemically occuring in each and every fiber, bone and molecule of every human being. "
"A doctor can inject meds and dilute but cannot destroy what God has done in the perfection of the HUMAN BEING," Helmer added, before she seemed to target one of her House colleagues in the Topeka statehouse.
“Now, personally I do not appreciate the huge transgender female who is now in our restrooms in the Capitol. It is quite uncomforting. I have asked the men if they would like a woman in their restroom and they freaked out.”
Rep. Stephanie Byers, the state's first transgender legislator, said it's clear Helmer's email targeted her. Byers said she hasn't spoken to Helmer since the email was first reported Monday in The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Byers said she and Helmer have been cordial in face-to-face dealings.
"It's always been polite," she said. "We've had genial conversations about our dogs. It's Midwest polite everywhere in this building."
But Helmer's comments didn't surprised Byers, a Democrat from Wichita.
"It's not unexpected," she said. "People have told me these conversations are going on behind closed doors."
Helmer, a Republican from Mulvane, went to make baseless claims that children are being attacked by transgender people in bathrooms across America.
"We as women have humans that are much larger, stronger, more adrenaline and testosterone and therefore possibly more dangerous and we have to share our restrooms," Helmer wrote. "Not only that but our wee little girls in elementary and middle and high school are having to be exposed and many have been raped, sodomized and beaten in the restrooms by these supposedly transgenders who may or may not be for real."
Helmer could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.
The KU grad student, Brenan Riffel, wrote to Helmer and other legislators after Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill that would ban transgender students from playing women's and girl's sports.
Riffel said Helmer's blunt language was jarring but that it could be helpful in sparking conversations about transgender rights.
"I wouldn't necessarily use the word 'appreciate,' but it did provide us with the opportunity to say: 'Hey this is what's being said. This is the attitude that is causing such bills to be written,'" Riffel said Tuesday.
"I would rather have someone be honest with me about how they feel about me so we can engage in those conversations."
The Senate voted to override Kelly's veto Tuesday. The override will move on to the House.