State representative tells transgender NC woman she suffers from ‘mental disorder’


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – A transgender woman is speaking out about an email she received from a state representative and member of the Republican National Committee who co-sponsored House Bill Two, which says she has a “mental disorder.”

Connie Berchem lives in Buncombe County but recently emailed 70 state legislators hoping to see the bill repealed.

WBTV spoke with Berchem Thursday afternoon.

“People think we are looking for transgender rights, we’re looking for extra rights. The thing is we’re just looking for our civil rights that were taken away from us when they passed a discriminatory bill,” she said.

Berchem described most of the responses she received as positive, with the exception of an email from District 55 Representative Mark Brody, who represents Union and Anson counties.

The message reads:

Dear Connie. I cannot speak professionally but can only repeat what professionals say about what you are going through. I believe it is called Gender Dysphoria, I hope I got the spelling right, and am saddened by the fact that North Carolina doesn’t provide the help you need to readjust from the mental disorder you suffer with. It appears that allowing you to use a bathroom, locker room or shower of your choice only reinforces the disorder not helps to correct it. As compassionate legislator I seek to help people who are suffering. If you are willing I can investigate promoting legislation to help those who suffer from this disorder and with your help can work to alleviate the pain and suffering caused by this disorder. I’m willing to help if you are willing to be helped and help others. Mark.

“Representative Brody took it upon himself to send me such a harsh criticism back to me telling me I have this disorder and how sorry he feels for me,” Berchem said.

Brody told WBTV he stands by the email sent to Berchem.

“Apparently the transgender community, as well as the LBGT (sic) community is all in arms. They believe I referenced everybody,” he said. “I didn’t. My letter was strictly to one person over one event. But I stand by that.”

Berchem, who transitioned from male to female in 2009, wants Brody to understand being transgender is not a mental disorder.

“I’d just like him to show some compassion. I’d like him to listen to the majority of constituents in his district. I think he needs to listen to the majority of people in the state of North Carolina,” she said.

But compassion is exactly what Brody says he was showing to Berchem when he sent the email. He says he wants to help her.

“It tears my heart apart when I see that kind of thing and I see these folks also suffering,” he said. “She has her opinion and I have my opinion and obviously, never the two will meet.”

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