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What it's like to be the first transgender lawmaker in Kansas

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Rep. Stephanie Byers is the first openly transgender lawmaker in Kansas, and has been championing the rights of LGBTQ residents even as Republican lawmakers focus on bills targeting transgender students and LGBTQ topics in schools.

Stephanie Byers of the Kansas House of Representatives built her campaign platform on protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community. Now the Wichita Democrat is serving her second year as the state's first openly transgender lawmaker, confronting head-on as GOP legislators pass numerous bills targeting LGBTQ topics in schools and attempt to ban transgender students from girls' and women's sports team.

The challenges have been personal, too: Byers has been on the receiving end of discriminatory comments from the public and, recently, from a Kansas Republican lawmaker, who publicly said she didn't want to share a bathroom with a transgender colleague.

"That's been the shoe that I've been waiting to hear it dropped for the last two years," Byers says. "I didn't run with the idea that this would insulate me from things like that."

Byers speaks with host Nomin Ujiyediin about this "emotionally charged" legislative session, and what's kept her going throughout.

Contact the show at news@kcur.org. Follow KCUR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news.

Kansas City Today is hosted by Nomin Ujiyediin. It is produced by Byron Love, Trevor Grandin, and KCUR Studios and edited by Gabe Rosenberg and Lisa Rodriguez.

You can support Kansas City Today by becoming a KCUR member: kcur.org/donate

As a newscaster and a host of a daily news podcast, I want to deliver the most important and interesting news of the day in an engaging and easily understandable way. No matter where you live in the metro or what you’re interested in, I want you to learn something from each newscast or podcast – and maybe even give you something to talk about at the dinner table. You can email me at nomin@kcur.org and find me on Twitter @NominUJ.
As an on-demand producer, I am focused on using my skills and experiences across multiple digital applications, platforms and media fields to create community focused audio, video and on-demand products for KCUR Studios. The media that I produce aims to inform, entertain and connect with the Kansas City metro area as we continue to learn from each other. Email me at byron@kcur.org.