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MN lawmaker called out for anti-transgender tweet

It was posted the morning after two transgender candidates were elected to Minneapolis City Council.
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A Minnesota state lawmaker has been criticized by her colleagues for a tweet stating transgender people have a mental illness.

Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), posted a tweet Wednesday morning saying: "A guy who thinks he's a girl is still a guy with a mental health condition."

The tweet was published the morning after the city council elections in Minneapolis, which ultimately saw openly transgender candidates Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham elected to office.

She has since deactivated her Twitter feed after her comment was picked up by CityPages on Thursday

That public exposure prompted a statement from the Minnesota LGBTQ Legislative Caucus.

"It is a shame to read on social media a statement by a public official that perpetuates a false and pejorative stereotype about transgender people," it says. "We encourage our colleague, Representative Mary Franson, to get the facts and to get to know transgender people herself. She will quickly learn that, as the American Psychological Association says, being transgender is not a mental illness."

"When leaders who hold positions of respect casually trade in negative comments about transgender people, some interpret that as an invitation to treat their fellow Minnesotans poorly," it adds.

The full letter is below:

Also speaking out is the LGBTQ group Stonewall DFL, which said on Friday: "Comments like these are reprehensible, transphobic and hateful. They will not be tolerated by fair-minded Minnesotans who demand more from its leaders. Hate-speech like this is a constant reminder in our communities of how much work we have left to do as a caucus."

As The Column notes, Franson – now in her fourth term representing her west-central district – has been one of the more vocal anti-LGBTQ GOPers in the Minnesota House.

She co-sponsored a bill barring transgender employees from using communal bathrooms, opposes marriage equality, and signed a letter supporting North Carolina's anti-LGBTQ laws.

She won re-election in 2016 handily, with 64.9 percent of the vote.

Many of those responding to her tweet noted that her Twitter bio featured the hashtag #practicekindness.

Her comments have generated headlines before

It's not the first time Franson's controversial comments have attracted wider attention.

In 2012, she hit national headlines when video footage emerged of a speech she gave in which she appeared to equate food stamp recipients to animals.

She later apologized for the comments.

She's also been in the news for her anti-vaccination views, as well as her opposition to Earth Day, which she called a "pagan holiday" as it's "worship of nature and not God's nature."

When contacted by CityPages about her latest transgender comments, she told the magazine: "You're fake news. Tabloid paper. I'll pass."

While she's shut down her personal Twitter account, her official state legislator account is still active, and her critics have been making their feelings known.

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