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Kansas elects first transgender legislator

Stephanie Byers becomes the first transgender person elected to the Kansas legislature.
Stephanie Byers becomes the first transgender person elected to the Kansas legislature.(Byers for Kansas)
Published: Nov. 4, 2020 at 12:28 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A former Wichita Public School teacher has become Kansas' first transgender legislator.

Democrat Stephanie Byers beat Republican Cyndi Howerton Tuesday night in the race to represent Kansas' 86th district, which includes portions of south Wichita. Byers, who is also of Native American descent, said she’s grateful for those who voted for her.

“It’s an affirmation on humanity," Byers said. “The fact that we were able to do this. People of House District 86 elected me. They voted for me. And they were the ones that chose to not let my gender identity become an issue. What we care about is what you can do to help us.”

The retired North High School band and orchestra director said she hopes her service will help show that “LGBTQ people can step up there and do the job that’s expected.” She said she plans to push for Medicaid expansion once in Topeka.

“Healthcare is a preeminent thing in our minds. That’s one of the issues we need to look at as a legislature. It’s come close several times. It’s time to push that even further for it,” said Byers.

The new legislator said despite making history, she wants people to know that she is ready to make a difference.

“Being trans is not the one thing that makes me who I am. It’s just a part of who I am. The rest of me, it all comes together to make those offerings to be able to serve the people,” Byers said.

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