photo and article by Sondra Wilson 9/16/2023
It all started on February 28 this year at the Iowa State Capitol building during College Day on the Hill:
Our class was invited to learn from and ask questions to Representative Carter Nordman and Senator Jesse Green. After asking them how they went about getting elected, a professor suggested that I attend both the Republican and Democratic central committee meetings in order to just “get involved”. I thought that was a great idea, and began attending both party meetings.
Then, on Aug. 21, at the Story County GOP Committee meeting, guest speaker Kathy Barnette gave a speech in favor of Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. During her speech, Ms. Barnette slandered transgender people multiple times. Although most of her statements were directed toward the topic of transgender minors, she performed multiple defamatory statements which applied to transgender adults as well. As someone who suffers from PTSD due to numerous acts of violence and harassment I’ve faced over the years (in relation to medically transitioning), I recognized these statements as not only harmful to my reputation – but to the community as a whole and to other individuals. With the exceptionally high number of transgender people murdered each year, politicians ought approach this topic with at least some level of concern and awareness. Following one of Ms. Barnette’s statements, I could not hold back any longer, stating loudly enough so everyone in the room could hear, “It is not okay to make defamatory statements about transgender people. The Republican Party was founded on lifting black people up out of slavery, and now candidates are running on kicking [transgender] people down who are already at the bottom of the barrel with regard to human rights. The Republican Party – with regard to how it’s been treating transgender people lately – has lost its way.“
Following this exchange, on Aug. 23, I sent this letter to Story County GOP explaining why I found Ms. Barnette’s comments antithetical to the Republican Party. I also requested five minutes of speaking time to provide perspective to SC GOP members. After all, their meetings take place in my home town, so I feel like I should have a seat at the table with regard to this discussion – especially when speakers are coming from out of state and spreading disinformation and bigotry in my home town.
By September 8 I had not received a response to my request, and instead received an email inviting me to a “4th District Tailgate Presidential Rally and Straw Poll” on the following day. The flyer that was attached to the email was blurry, so I wasn’t sure which candidates would be there:
On September 15 I received a letter from Story County GOP’s Chair, Brett Barker, informing me that their meetings are no longer open to the public.
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