Homophobia at the State Capital

OKLAHOMA CITY — An email telling teenage pages that “there are cross-dressers in the building” caused a noon-time furor in the Capitol on Monday.

The email, by House staffer Karen Kipgen, who oversees the Page program, was prompted by the visit of about 70 LGBTQ students from the Tulsa area who were lobbying mostly on behalf of HIV awareness and education funding and support. Their presence also prompted Karen Kipgen, supervisor of the page program, to arrange for pages to use private staff and member restrooms.

Kipgen also sent the mass email saying “As per the Speaker’s office, Pages are being allowed access to the ladies restroom across from 401, for today. Again, there are cross-dressers in the building.”

Speaker Charles McCall’s office quickly disavowed the message, saying it was not approved by McCall nor any of his immediate staff. 

 A Twitter account belonging to House leadership posted a reply. “The email sent today referring to transgender men and women as ‘cross dressers’ DID NOT come from the Speaker’s Office or at his direction,” the post read. “We are looking into the matter and will take appropriate action shortly.”


“We came down to the Capitol to talk about laws,” said Ella Gambino, 17, a Union High School senior. “To be referred to as cross-dressers is something you say as an insult.”

A spokesman for McCall said the incident is being investigated.

Scroll to Top