Native American transgender woman Stephanie Byers just shattered ‘lavender ceiling’ by getting elected in Kansas
Stephanie Byers, a transgender Native American teacher, has won election to the Kansas state house of representatives.
Stephanie Byers, a member of the Native American Chickasaw Nation, is believed to be the first transgender person of colour elected to office anywhere in the United States.
She will also be the first transgender representative in the Kansas state legislature, helping to bolster representation on the body.
Kansas victory ‘shatters lavender ceiling’ in state
Annise Parker of LGBTQ Victory Fund said: “Stephanie shattered a lavender ceiling in Kansas and its impact will reverberate well beyond the borders of the state.
“Her victory will inspire more trans people to run for office because they see it is possible and understand these candidates are transforming how America perceives them.
“While cynical politicians attempted to weaponize trans issues for political gain this cycle, Stephanie’s victory is a powerful reminder that most voters reject the politics of bigotry and will elect trans people who have a positive vision for their communities.”
Prior to Tuesday, there were four transgender lawmakers in state legislatures across the US.
Assuming all incumbents are returned, the number could swell to double thanks to a number of likely gains – with Sarah McBride of Delaware and Taylor Small of Vermont already picking up seats.
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Stephanie Byers worked as a teacher for three decades and is a vocal LGBT+ activist
Before her run for office, Byers taught in Wichita public schools for 29 years, and was named the GLSEN National Educator of the Year – as well as becoming a vocal supporter of LGBT+ rights.
Her website says: “Since coming out publicly as a transgender woman, she has advocated about issues impacting the LGBTQ community. She has spoken at rallies on the steps of the Kansas State Capitol and given presentations to several local community organizations, as well as public school faculties and student bodies.
“Stephanie served as the Communications Director for Wichita Pride, the local organization that hosts Wichita’s local LGBTQ pride events, and has volunteered for a number of other local Wichita non-profits.”
She said: “It has been an incredible and amazing journey living in Kansas for the last three decades.
“It’s my sincere hope to take the experience I’ve gained working in public schools, combining it with the passion of activism I’ve embraced, and become a legislator in the Kansas House of Representatives that you can be proud of.”