Mott shares life-changing tale

Speaking out Stephanie Mott, a senior in Washburn’s Bachelor of Social Work program, has struggled with gender identity issues in the past. In 2010, she helped found the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project.

Kelly Hurla / Washburn Review

“The very first thing I remember knowing about myself was that I was a girl, but born into a boy’s body,” said Stephanie Mott, who was born as Steven Mott. “The second thing I remember knowing about myself was knowing this meant I had to hide who I was.”  

She knew from the beginning that she was more like her sisters than brothers. Thus, the battle within herself begun.

Mott struggled through her early years, thinking she couldn’t talk about it with anyone. When puberty hit, her body began changing in ways she didn’t want it to. The lines between boys and girls were becoming a lot more separated and defined. 

“It was the 1960s and basically impossible to be this way, definitely in Kansas,” said Mott.

At the age of 17, she attended her first year at the University of Kansas.

“Every moment of my conscious existence took place on the battlefield of who I am and who I thought I had to be,” said Mott. “Sometimes the battle lines seemed to be drawn between me and the God that created me.”

Mott constantly lived in fear that someone would find out about her transgender identity.  Within her first year at KU, Mott discovered alcohol. 

“It changed the way I felt. I didn’t have to feel that pain and I didn’t have the fear that torment,” said Mott. “I didn’t have to feel the shame and I didn’t have to feel the fear.”

Over the next 30 years, Mott abusively used alcohol and drugs to hide from her reality. 

Fast forward to November 2005, when Mott became homeless. She moved to Topeka because of the quality of the Topeka Rescue Mission.  Mott still struggled as a man, but trying over and over again to be something she wasn’t, was taking its toll. At the mission, Mott was able to get into treatment for alcohol abuse and start seeing a counselor about her gender identity. 

In July 2006, Mott was invited to attend the Metropolitan Community Church.

“My second week there, the pastor read a verse,” said Mott. “It was 2 Corinthians 5:17, ‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creature. All things are passed away behold all things become new.'”

This was the first time that Mott felt it was okay with others and okay with God for her to be the woman she truly was.

“I was greeted with this unconditional love that Jesus talks about in the Bible; this ‘I have love, you look like you could use some, here it is no strings attached.'”

On July 23, 2006, Mott signed the attendance sheet as ‘Stephanie Mott’ for the first time. For Mott, Stephanie was truly born this day and she never looked back. 

Today, Mott attends Washburn as a senior in the Bachelor of Social Work program.  For three and a half years, Mott has been the transgender columnist for “Liberty Press”, a statewide LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender focused) magazine that circulates out of Wichita. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Community Church. In 2010, Mott and others founded the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project (K-STEP).  She is the state vice-chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition and chair of the local Topeka chapter. 

For Mott, it’s important to share her journey for others to find out they’re not alone. 

“I have this ability to create that in the lives of other transgender people and also to provide education for people who quite frankly don’t have the opportunity to see and get to know somebody who’s transgender,” said Mott. “Often times they just really don’t understand, and people are a lot of times afraid of things they don’t often understand.”

For more information about K-STEP, the Kansas Equality Coalition, or about transgenderism, contact Mott at [email protected] Her personal website is: http://publiclytransgender.pbworks.com/f/intro.htm.