Topeka A group that advocates for gay rights on Thursday criticized state Rep. TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, over her questioning of a transsexual woman. Gregory issued an apology.
The dispute stemmed from a hearing before the House Elections Committee on a bill that would require photo ID to vote and require new voters show proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to register to vote.
Stephanie Mott of Topeka testified against the bill, saying the requirements could disenfranchise transgender voters.
“My birth certificate still says ‘Steven’ and ‘Male.’ My driver’s license now says ‘Stephanie’ and ‘Female.’ For me to amend my birth certificate, I must complete several years of medically supervised transition, which will ultimately cost more than $20,000,” Mott said.
Gregory then asked Mott if her choices came with certain costs.
The Kansas Equality Coalition criticized Gregory over her remarks.
“For an elected official to suggest that Ms. Mott, and others similarly situated, must accept disenfranchisement as a cost of their transition is both offensive and outrageous,” said Thomas Witt, chairman of the Kansas Equality Coalition. The coalition advocates against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Mott, who is a member of the coalition, and executive director of the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, said she had no choice in becoming a woman.
“It was a choice for me between living and dying. If I hadn’t made the decision to transition, I would be dead today,” she said.
When told of the criticism, Gregory responded, saying, “Based on the statement from the Kansas Equality Coalition and Ms. Mott’s response in committee, it’s clear I worded my question in a way that did not reflect my intent and unintentionally offended Ms. Mott. That’s most unfortunate. I offer Ms. Mott my apology again for the poorly-worded question, and had the conversation continued, I feel sure my desire to help resolve her concerns would’ve been evident. I appreciate her testimony, and know we will consider her insight when working the bill.”
Contacted later, Mott said she appreciated Gregory’s statement. Mott said she hoped Gregory and the committee would realize what a hardship the proposed legislation would be to transgender individuals.