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

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. (This episode originally came out May 5, 2022.)

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.

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

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As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. Follow me on Twitter @ptsbrian or email me at brian@kcur.org.
Trevor Grandin is a contributing producer for KCUR Studios.
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