U.S. senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming has issued an apology after she made remarks in a commencement speech at the University of Wyoming Saturday that some considered transphobic, prompting boos from the crowd.
Lummis, a Republican in deep-red Wyoming, began her speech with the common refrains of commencement day, encouraging graduates to work hard and understand their place in the world. She moved on to discussing disruptive technologies, such as cryptocurrency, before weighing in on how technical capabilities clash with individual rights.
She suggested certain rights are under attack, including “freedom of speech, religion, property, assembly and to keep and bear arms.” She then remarked, “Even fundamental scientific truths, such as the existence of two sexes—male and female—are subject to challenge these days.”
Audible boos, mixed with scattered applause, can be heard on video from the ceremony.
Oil City News reported that Lummis issued an apology Sunday to anyone who felt “unwelcomed or disrespected” by the comment but not for the statement that prompted the controversy.
University of Wyoming president Ed Seidel addressed the incident in a brief statement posted Sunday.
“On Saturday, the university celebrated spring 2022 commencement with a series of events that showcased the best of what makes us special: our students, our staff, our faculty and our ability to openly embrace and debate complex issues. One of our speakers made remarks regarding biological sex that many on campus take issue with. While we respect the right of all to express their views, from students to elected officials, we unequivocally state that UW is an institution that supports and celebrates its diverse communities that collectively make us the wonderful place that we are,” Seidel wrote. “Thank you to the many students and families who celebrated with us this weekend. We welcome the incredible individuality and intellect of all our dynamic and diverse students and never want you to feel otherwise.”