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Kansas Lawmaker Leaves Republican Party Over Anti-Trans Views: ‘That Was My Final Straw’

A GOP lawmaker in Kansas announced on Wednesday her intention to switch parties, citing the Republican Party’s anti-trans policies as her “last, final straw.”

In a statement announcing her decision, Kansas Sen. Barbara Bollier said she was troubled by a resolution adopted by the state’s GOP which erases the existence of transgender people. “We believe God created two genders, male and female,” its platform claims, echoing rhetoric from the anti-LGBTQ Focus on the Family.

The language was adopted in February.

“That was my final, last straw,” Bollier claimed, as the Shawnee Mission Post was first to report. “I support the people of Kansas. I do not condemn whoever they are.”

“Morally, the party is not going where my compass resides,” she added.

Many claimed the change of heart wasn’t a surprise. Despite being a registered Republican for 43 years, the lawmaker endorsed Democrat Tom Niermann in the primary for Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. Niermann was upset by Sharice Davids, who went onto defeat Republican Kevin Yoder in the general election.

Bollier went on to back eventual winner Laura Kelly over anti-LGBTQ conservative Kris Kobach in the gubernatorial election. Kobach has compared same-sex marriage to polygamy and claimed LGBTQ advocacy groups promote pedophilia.

In July, Senate President Susan Wagle removed Bollier from her seat on the Public Health and Welfare Committee for endorsing Democrats.

Bollier said that being unseated from the committee left her no choice.

“Once I was removed from my committees, it no longer made sense for me to try to represent my constituents as a Republican,” claimed the 60-year-old, a retired physician who studied at the Kansas University School of Medicine.

An advocate for Medicaid expansion, Bollier further described her work on health legislation as her “expertise area” and “what the state needs from me.”

“I need to be able to work in those areas,” she said.

Wagle, who previously called Bollier’s party switch “embarrassing,” did not signal any intention of softening her stance this week.

“Senator Bollier has a voting record more liberal than some Democrats, so it’s no shock she joined the party of Nancy Pelosi,” she tweeted after Bollier’s announcement was made public. “The only surprise is that she didn’t end her facade of being a Republican sooner.”

Democrats, though, were happy to have her. The governor-elect said she applauds Bollier’s “courage.”

“[Bollier] has always demonstrated a commitment to working across the aisle and standing up for Kansas families,” Kelly claimed in a press release. “I look forward to working with her as we rebuild our state.”

But as the newly elected governor works to undo a “religious freedom” adoption law passed by Kansas last year, Bollier’s additional vote will hardly be enough to tip the scales in the legislature on LGBTQ issues. Democrats only control 10 of the 40 seats in the Senate and 40 of 125 House seats.

Bollier has served in the Senate since 2017. Prior to that time, she was a member of the House from 2010 to 2016. The District 7 lawmaker will have two more years before she faces reelection.

Insiders say, however, that her transition to the Democratic Party positions her well for 2020.

Bollier’s Northeast Johnson County constituency includes areas like Fairway, Leawood, Mission Hills, Prairie Village, and Westwood, as well as portions of Overland Park. Kelly won those areas handily in the 2018 election.

The lawmaker also got in a few jabs at Donald Trump during her Wednesday statement.

“I can’t call it leadership,” Bollier said of his tenure in the White House. “I don’t even know what to call him. He is our president, but he is not representing my value system remotely.”


Nico Lang

Nico Lang is a staff writer for INTO, covering news, politics, and global LGBTQ issues.