A Republican Senator apologized after making transphobic remarks while addressing University of Wyoming college graduates as a keynote speaker.
In her commencement speech on Sunday, Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming had suggested constitutional rights were under attack in the U.S. and that “even fundamental scientific truths such as the existence of two sexes, male and female, are subject to challenge these days.”
Her speech was met with jeers and boos.
As the majority of the crowd audibly disapproved of her transphobic remark, Lummis–who is a UW graduate from Cheyenne– paused for roughly 25-seconds and awkwardly smiled.
“You know, I challenge those of you. I’m not making a comment on the fact that there are people who transition between sexes.”
You can hear her statement at the 49:42 mark in the YouTube video shared by UW IT Productions, here.
After the backlash from her speech, Lummis issued the following statement.
“My reference to the existence of two sexes was intended to highlight the times in which we find ourselves, times in which the metric of biological sex is under debate with potential implications for the shared Wyoming value of equality,” she said.
Lummis continued in her statement of apology:
“I share the fundamental belief that women and men are equal, but also acknowledge that there are biological differences and circumstances in which these differences need to be recognized."
"That being said, it was never my intention to make anyone feel un-welcomed or disrespected, and for that I apologize."
"I have appreciated hearing from members of the University of Wyoming community on this issue, and I look forward to continuing this dialogue.”
University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel responded to the fallout without naming the GOP Senator in a released statement.
“One of our speakers made remarks regarding biological sex that many on campus take issue with,” said Seidel.
“While we respect the right of all to express their views, from students to elected officials, we unequivocally state that UW is an institution that supports and celebrates its diverse communities that collectively make us the wonderful place that we are.”
Lummis voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act–citing it was a "state's rights issue."
The hate crime legislation was named after Matthew Shepard–a gay student at the University of Wyoming who was murdered near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998.
The anti-trans remarks in the Senator's commencement speech come amidst a proliferation of Republican-backed transphobic legislation targeting young students in schools and in sports.
In February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called on citizens to investigate parents of transgender children if it appears the minors are receiving gender-affirming medical care.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the controversial "Parental Rights in Education" bill–also known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill–which bans the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms from kindergarten to third grade.