N.C.’s first transgender candidate runs for U.S. Congress

May plans to advocate for veterans, public schools and healthcare

MICRO, N.C. — A Johnston County transgender woman and disabled veteran has announced her candidacy for the District 2 congressional election against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. George Holding. Wendy Ella May, 55, will run as a Democrat and is a former delegate to the Democratic National Convention who advocated for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid.

The first transgender congressional candidate in North Carolina’s history, May’s priorities are quite progressive. Instead of campaigning purely for LGBTQ rights, however, she has broader plans to benefit the citizens of the state and the nation.

“I will work across party lines to make sure that our citizens can earn a living wage, have affordable health care and that our public schools are strong to prepare our future generations for employment,” May told The News & Observer. “One of the reasons I’m running is because of the way the Veterans Administration treats veterans.”

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As a veteran herself, May has firsthand experience of such issues. VA medical centers have numerous open cases of patient mistreatment and other malfunctions. Recently, a number of cases investigating VA employees for drug theft have also been opened. Still more dramatic, an estimated 20 veterans per day commit suicide.

May also plans to address the controversial issue of investing in public schools. Trump-appointed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has already released a “near-final” budget for 2018 that includes $1.2 billion in cuts to after-school programs and 2.1 billion funding cut to teacher training and class-size reduction. If elected to Congress, May could have influence in the approval process for this budget.

The transgender and “New Deal Progressive” candidate’s bid to unseat Rep. Holding is one example of the Democratic Party’s strategy to take back congressional seats during the 2018 midterm election. With complete Republican control in Washington, progressives nationwide are standing up to challenge conservative control of certain swing districts — including May’s home in Johnston County.

The road ahead may be challenging for the Congressional hopeful. During May’s 2016 bid for Johnston County Commissioner, a fellow veteran complained to her about the “faggot” running for office, oblivious that he was speaking to the candidate herself. Despite competing in a rural, conservative county, May is determined to keep fighting.

After her presidential candidate of choice ceded the nomination to Hillary Clinton, May spoke on the party’s need for internal cooperation and, at home in North Carolina, the surprising opportunities for discourse provided by the infamous HB2.

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“To be a united party, we have to see the whole picture. If we don’t have the Senate, if we don’t have Congress, if we don’t have the White House, we’re in trouble,” May told the News & Observer. “[But] HB2 opened the door for a lot of interviews where I could talk about veterans rights and a living wage and a quality education.”

As for LGBTQ involvement in politics, particularly as candidates, May hopes that more like her will follow.

One of May’s Facebook posts says it all: “I strongly believe that if you are not sitting at the table you will be on the menu.”

May isn’t the only transgender candidate running in 2018, the Observer reported. Angela Bridgman of Wendell, N.C. who spoke out frequently against HB2, has filed paperwork for a campaign in the N.C. House district currently represented by Republican Rep. Chris Malone of Wake Forest, N.C.

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