Several years ago, I committed my life to trying to make certain that it was possible for more LGBT youth in Kansas to see a light in the darkness. To know that they are precisely and perfectly who they are supposed to be. There are many others who have made the same commitment.
In 2007 an executive order signed by then-governor Kathleen Sebelius provided protections for about 25,000 Kansas employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. On Tuesday, Sam Brownback issued his own executive order, repealing those protections.
In so doing, he took an action that extinguishes part of the light so many have worked to create. But the spark that is left will grow into a flame of truth and dignity. Why? Because the flame of truth and dignity is far more powerful than any amount of hate and discrimination.
My message to LGBT Kansans is this: DO NOT let him tell you who you are. DO NOT let him tell you who you have to be or who you can love. DO NOT let Brownback or any other bigot tell you what your value is. You are perfect. Not only is there nothing wrong with being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender; it is beautiful. You are undeniably and exactly who you are supposed to be.
I am not frightened by this monstrous action, nor am I afraid of this man. He does not speak for Kansas. He does not speak for God. Hate is not a Christian value. Hate is not a Kansas value. Hate is not an American value. The greatest possible gift I can give to this world is to be my true, authentic self. Sam Brownback has no power to change that.
Ideologues like Brownback are a dying breed. The future belongs to equality. Legalized discrimination is breathing its last breaths. But those who would see the light extinguished, for young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, are fighting the battle of desperation.
They are pulling out all the stops and clinging to the dying branches of a tree that no longer has roots. They are no longer able, will never again be able, to stop the progression of human dignity and civil rights.
However, in this battle of desperation, there are and will continue to be the last desperate acts of hate. Absolute and indefensible by their very nature, carrying the despicable and desolate mark of inhumanity. These horrifying and inexcusable acts are not all-powerful. In the movie Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Princess Leia says, “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” True that.
We must stand together against the immoral designation of LGBT people as second-class citizens. We must do this in Kansas, across America, in Russia, and in Uganda. We must do it anywhere the ugly two-headed snake of homophobia and transphobia dares to make its nasty presence known.
We are going to fight tooth and nail until we put an end to the evilness of Sam Brownback and other monsters like him. We will take the battle to him and any other person who tries to deny us our rightful status as full and equal human beings. That, is a promise.
So I will endeavor to shine my light even more truthfully, even more powerfully, and even more brightly than ever before. I do not stand alone. We will continue the fight until there is a light in the darkness that can not be extinguished; until the darkness is no more.
The day is coming, sooner that you might think. Don’t ask me what’s the matter with Kansas. This is a great state. This is my state. You might want to ask me what’s the matter with Brownback. He’s not looking too good.
Stephanie Mott is a transsexual woman from Topeka, Kansas and a nationally known speaker on transgender issues. In addition, Stephanie is the executive director of Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project and a commissioner on the City of Topeka Human Relations Commission. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org