A Minnesota state lawmaker is under fire for a tweet and subsequent apology that both personally attack a newly minted member of the Minneapolis City Council for being transgender.
Tuesday night, Andrea Jenkins became the first trans woman of color elected to a city’s governing body, winning a seat on the Minneapolis City Council. State Rep. Mary Franson responded Wednesday morning by tweeting, “A guy who thinks he’s a girl is still a guy with a mental health condition.” The tweet has since been deleted.
— Mike McFeely (@MikeMcFeelyWDAY) November 9, 2017
Thursday night, Franson issued an “apology,” wherein she reiterated her belief that no one can change their gender and refused “to go along with fantasy and participate in it”:
There are times I don’t practice kindness. For that I am sorry. While I do believe that one can’t change their gender based on their feelings, I didn’t need to tweet out my thoughts. God created man and woman but then sin entered the world and disrupted his perfect plan. He then sent His one and only son, Jesus, to take away our sins and to restore a broken relationship with God. I should have shown grace and not come across the way I did. For that I apologize. I do not apologize for not conforming to the PC world where I’m supposed to go along with fantasy and participate in it. This isn’t the first time I’ve offended the social justice warriors and it won’t be the last.
Many have condemned Franson’s remarks across the state, including Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party, who called her comments “hurtful” and an “attempt to cheapen this historic victory and take the wind out of the sails of equality.”
Councilwoman-elect Jenkins herself also issued a response:
Thank you, Representative Franson, for showing all Minnesotans your true bigotry and unapologetic transphobia. As a tax-paying citizen, I am extremely disappointed in seeing my public officials displaying such discrimination against and complete disregard for transgender residents of the great state of Minnesota.
Though Franson was clearly targeting Jenkins, hers was not the only big victory. Phillipe Cunningham, a trans man of color, also won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council alongside Jenkins.
Franson’s transphobic comments follow a long history of anti-LGBTQ comments. Earlier this year, when she was campaigning for legislation banning female genital mutilation, she drew an unfortunate juxtaposition as she dismissed concerns about President Trump’s ban on transgender military service:
If you're upset about transgenders being banned from military service; not appalled that parents can #FGM their daughter – you're hopeless
— Rep. Mary Franson (@RepMaryFranson) July 26, 2017
In a 2012 debate, she defended her opposition to marriage equality by explaining that she doesn’t believe homosexuality is “normal behavior” and she wanted to protect children from being taught to normalize it. Two years later, she opposed legislation to protect LGBTQ students from bullying because she deemed LGBT organizations to be “special interest groups” that were trying to impose “fascism” on schools.