Kansas lawmaker expressed discomfort with 'huge' transgender colleague in women's restrooms

"We as women have humans that are much larger, stronger, more adrenaline and testosterone and therefore possibly more dangerous," the lawmaker wrote in an email.

Updated: April 26, 2022 - 10:34pm

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Kansas Republican state Rep. Cheryl Helmer over the weekend told a transgender college student that she feels uncomfortable sharing a restroom with her "huge transgender female" Democratic colleague.

Tensions surrounding LGBT issues are already running high in the Kansas Capitol after the state Senate overrode the governor's veto on a bill that would ban biological men from competing in women's school sports.

In an email to transfeminine University of Kansas graduate student Brenan Riffel, Helmer said, "No surgeon can cut, remove, wop, add to change the biology that is chemically occuring [sic] 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."

Riffel sent a copy of the email exchange to the nonprofit Kansas Reflector, and said, "I am appalled that she is in office with such beliefs." Riffel sent the email to voice disagreement with a House bill that would make it illegal for doctors to perform sex change surgeries or hormone replacement therapy on minors.

Helmer also appears in the email exchange to target Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Byers, Kansas' first transgender legislator.

"Now, personally I do not appreciate the huge transgender female who is now in our restrooms in the Capitol," Helmer wrote. "It is quite uncomforting. I have asked the men if they would like a woman in their restroom and they freaked out."

The Republican lawmaker also argued that having biological men in women's restrooms is a safety issue.

"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," she 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."

While there is not evidence to support claims that transgender people are more dangerous, activist group Fair Play for Women found that "transwomen in prison exhibit a propensity to sexual crime that matches their birth sex and not their gender identity."

The lawmaker may have also been thinking about the incident in Loudon County, Virginia, when a biologically male student was convicted earlier this year of sexually assualting teen girls in a high school women's bathroom.

Riffel criticized the lawmaker's comments.

"With the rise in attacks of trans people and with the growing acceptance of violence towards the trans community, it’s important to advocate and fight back this legislation that aims to erase us and make us targets," Riffel said, adding, "Unfortunately... I expected such a bigoted and close-minded response."

Helmer is facing the wrath of progressive activist groups as well. The ACLU of Kansas criticized Helmer for spreading "misinformation" and said she "used hateful language." Equality Kansas called for Helmer to be "accountable for the hateful, bigoted and slanderous statements she made."

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