(Read at Stephanie Mott’s memorial service, March 23 2019)
Greetings friends of Stephanie –
I met Stephanie sometime in 2008 or 2009. By 2009, she had joined Equality Kansas and soon became a member of our state board. In 2012, she was elected Chair of our board, and to the best of our knowledge was the first transgender leader of a statewide LGBT equality and advocacy organization.
Over the past decade, Stephanie’s advocacy and leadership have helped define our organization and our mission. We are all better for her contribution.
Stephanie’s tireless dedication to Equality Kansas, to the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project which she founded in 2010, and to the cause of LGBT equality, laid out a path others will follow for years to come. Stephanie served unselfishly, often putting the needs of the Kansas LGBT community ahead of her own.
Although we worked together very closely through the years, our styles are markedly different. As many of you know, I am often aggressive and confrontational, looking to draw our opponents into public fights. Stephanie, on the other hand, approached those who attacked our community with kindness and love. She had an ability to draw people in, talk to them, and teach those who would deny us our rights that we are all children of god.
Stephanie often had lessons for me, as well. More than once she pulled me back from the edge of my worst instincts. As recently as last month, Stephanie’s wise and loving counsel kept me from instigating a legislative confrontation that would not have helped us achieve our goals.
As I go forward in my work, I won’t ask “What would Stephanie do?” but rather “What would Stephanie tell me not to do?” She has been, and always will be, my better angel.
Stephanie wasn’t done. She wasn’t ready to finish her work on this Earth. Just two days before her passing, we talked about getting together the following week to discuss late-session strategy for our agenda.
The best way to honor her memory and her work is to continue that work. We – all of us – must recommit to advocating for equality and fairness.
A great warrior has fallen. We must pick up her weapons of love, kindness, and understanding and fight for those goals to which she dedicated her life.
Do your part. Carry on.
Thomas Witt is Equality Kansas’ executive director.