Open Letter to Senator Enzi

Dear Senator Enzi,

We were disappointed and concerned to hear your recent remarks to a group of Greybull Middle School and High School students. When a student asked what you were doing to support LGBTQ communities in the State, you responded that a man wearing a tutu to a bar shouldn’t be surprised if he keeps getting into fights, because “well, he kind of asks for it.”

Looking beyond the poor choice of using a bar scene in an anecdote geared towards teenagers, your response is harmful for Wyoming’s LGBTQ youth and the future of our State. Wyoming needs to face our tragic history and work toward bipartisan solutions so we can all feel proud—and safe—to live here. That is why we invite you and your staff to meet with us during the next Congressional recess to discuss proactive policies that support our LGBTQ youth.

Senator Enzi, let’s be clear though: LGBTQ individuals are not “asking for it” by being who they are. Gay men are not “asking for it” if they present themselves in a feminine manner. Trans and gender non-binary individuals are not “asking for it” by wearing the clothes that make them feel comfortable and authentic in their gender identity.

Furthermore, the dangerous mindset that someone is “asking for it” by dressing a certain way is the same victim blaming mentality used to discredit victims of sexual assault and rape rather than placing the blame where it belongs—on the perpetrators of such violence. This mentality is dangerous for LGBTQ communities, for women, for youth, and for all of Wyoming.

Senator Enzi, your comments put LGBTQ youth at greater risk by suggesting that it is okay—natural, even—to discriminate and inflict violence upon someone who is different. Your comments paint an inaccurate picture of Wyoming as intolerant and unwelcoming, threatening to drive our youth, jobs, and opportunity away from Wyoming. Your comments do not represent Wyoming values.

You recently apologized and called for civility, saying that no one should be bullied, intimidated, or attacked because of their beliefs. Though we agree with this sentiment, we feel your apology falls flat by not fully owning the responsibility of the violence your comments perpetuate. No matter the context of your comments, Senator, they place our LGBTQ youth in a vulnerable position. You must do better for our LGBTQ youth and for Wyoming by denouncing this kind of victim blaming culture and working tirelessly to ensure all LGBTQ Wyomingites are protected from violence.

Again, we invite you and your staff to meet with us during the next Congressional recess. Regardless of party affiliation, Wyoming’s LGBTQ youth deserve proactive policies that secure their right to live authentically, work safely, and love openly in the State we all call home. We sincerely hope you take us up on this offer and look forward to discussing how we can better protect and support our LGBTQ youth.

Respectfully,

The Young Democrats of Wyoming

Shayna Lonoaea Alexander