Topeka Stephanie Mott, a transsexual woman, tried for nearly 50 years to be a man.
It was a journey that she said took her through alcoholism and homelessness.
Now that she has started her transition, backed by her faith in God, she talks about the “life-draining discrimination that is prevalent throughout Kansas against transgender people.”
Last week, Mott asked the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee to approve Senate Bill 53 that would protect Kansans from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
State law now protects Kansans from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, familial status, national origin and ancestry.
Mott said that discrimination against transgender people sometimes leads to alcoholism, drug abuse, poverty and suicide.
Advocates for gays and lesbians also are pushing for the bill.
Several groups are lobbying against it.
“The bill places sexual orientation and self-perceived gender identity not as a protected class, but as a privileged group,” said Judy Smith, state director of Concerned Women for America of Kansas.
The Kansas Catholic Conference is opposed, too.
And Donna Lippoldt, director of the Kansas Family Policy Council, said the group “cannot approve that which we believe to be morally wrong.”
For Mott, the acceptance of herself came in a church that other transgender people attended.
“The attendance book came around and I signed my name, Stephanie Mott, for the first time. I took communion as Stephanie. My communion prayer started out as ‘God, bless your daughter for the faith she has shown you.’”