Transgender State Legislator: Not This Time

When Kansas State Representative Harold Lane announced his retirement, I didn’t hesitate to make it known that I planned to try to become the nominee to fill his unexpired term. November 14, the six Democratic precinct committee members for Kansas House District 58 gathered together to make that nomination. It went to Rev. Ben Scott. Gov. Brownback will now make an appointment to fill this seat in the Kansas Legislature.

    There is much more to this story than a transgender woman from Topeka not being selected as the nominee. It was not a difficult decision for me to place my name into consideration for this seat. I have long had my eye on the right opportunity to come along. This one certainly had all the earmarks of the right opportunity.

    Far more took place in that room than just the six precinct committee members electing a nominee. When Bryan Lowry of The Wichita Eagle ran a story on this little election, it was picked up by the Associated Press and went out coast to coast. It was also picked up by newspapers across Kansas.

    Perhaps the most important thing I set out to do was to give a few young people, who happen to be transgender, some hope that they could live authentically and make it in this world. I’m thinking that we - me and all the other marginalized people who stand up and claim our dignity - are making a difference. The door has been opened. It can never be closed again. Speaking loudly and clearly I say to you, “You can more than make it in this world. You can make this world a place where we don’t have to wonder if we can live authentically.”

    I got to give a speech before the election. A lot of people were there who didn’t really know much about me. Now they do. Several of these people, leaders in the community, came up to me after the meeting and shared how much they appreciated what I had to say. Amazing things will come out of this. Multiple requests have already been made for me to share my journey.

    I have learned in the last several years that when I put good stuff out to the universe, good stuff comes back to me. I am extremely excited to see what good stuff will come from this. I am certain of one thing, the universe knows exactly where I am supposed to be. It is leading constantly to that precise place and I will arrive at the precise time I am supposed to arrive.

    A couple weeks ago, I registered for the final two classes to achieve my Master of Social Work degree from Washburn University. If I had been appointed to the Kansas House of Representatives, I would have needed to postpone my MSW by as much as a year and a half. I couldn’t have been at my MSW practicum, and at the State Capitol at the same time. I knew, going into this, that no matter what happened, it was good.

    I shook Rev. Scott’s hand on the way out of the meeting and offered my congratulations. In the speech he gave before the election, he talked about justice for all people. I am concerned that Rev. Scott does not believe justice for all people translates into laws that make it illegal to discriminate against LGBT people. I could be wrong. If not, you can expect me to step up again.

    Finally, I believe that every time we get the word transgender into a newspaper in Kansas, we bump the football a little bit down the field; a little closer to the goal line. We didn’t lose. We bumped the football far enough down the field to get a first down. We have a new set of downs and we still have the ball.

    The end of this story is not yet written. In the course of this experience, I was asked several times what it would mean to be the first transgender woman elected to the Kansas Legislature. My response has been to say, “We need to get to a place where we don’t have to recognize the first of any population to achieve something; a place where the legislature in Kansas is representative of the diversity in Kansas.” Touchdown. l

StephanieMott-7Stephanie Mott is a transgender woman from Topeka. She is the executive director of the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, and a commissioner on the City of Topeka Human Relations Commission. Reach her at [email protected]

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