Eight openly transgender candidates had historic wins on Election Day
Updated: November 14, 2017 at 11:15 am
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Democrats had a lot to celebrate as returns came in on Election Day, both locally and nationwide, as the party won big in what many are calling a rebuke of the Trump administration.
Another cause for celebration for progressives was the news that eight openly transgender candidates won their elections. The historic nature of these wins is further magnified by the way the Trump administration has targeted the LGBTQ community in general, and the trans community in particular.
That includes standing on the side of employers who would wish to fire LGBTQ people, and banning transgender soldiers from the military.
Voters across the country turned up at the polls to show they held more progressive views on those issues than the current administration.
Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Sarah McBride, herself transgender, noted that she is receiving messages from the parents of trans youth sharing the importance of these wins, and adding that it will save lives.
I'm getting texts and emails from parents of trans youth from across the country all saying the same thing:
"This morning I got to tell my kid that transgender people were just elected to city councils and a state legislature."
Last night will save lives.
— Sarah McBride (@SarahEMcBride) November 8, 2017
Andrea Jenkins became the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the United States, succeeding in her effort to join the the Minneapolis City Council. Jenkins, who is an activist, artist, and mother, said she looked forward to the chance to “speak truth to power.”
“It’s about being present, and people knowing you will speak out against injustices. That alone will sometimes limit the number of injustices that happen,” she told the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
Danica Roem unseated her self-admitted homophobic Republican opponent, Bob Marshall, to become Virginia’s first openly transgender lawmaker, and the first openly trans state representative in the country.
Roem was misgendered on numerous occasions by Marshall, who also refused to debate her. She released a campaign ad in response that showed her taking her hormones and putting on makeup.
“I’m running for office because my identity shouldn’t be a big deal,” she said in the ad. “Because this shouldn’t be newsworthy or political. This is just who I am.”
Danica Roem is on track to be the first out trans person elected and seated in a state legislature. She defeated an incumbent who sponsored a "bathroom bill" in Virginia. pic.twitter.com/HUxjxUKNtn
— BuzzFeed LGBT (@BuzzFeedLGBT) November 8, 2017
Gerri Cannon won a seat on the Somersworth School Board, and has said she has plans to run for New Hampshire State Representative.
Cannon has reported being discriminated against in the workplace for being transgender and advocated for a non-discrimination law that the state has tabled.
Lisa Middleton became the first openly transgender city council member in Palm Springs, as well as the first openly trans nonjudicial elected official in the state of California.
Christy Holstege, a bisexual woman, won the other open seat, making the city council now entirely composed of members of the LGBTQ community, according to Equality California.
Stephe Koontz won a spot on the Doraville City Council, just northeast of Atlanta, becoming the city’s first transgender elected official. Koontz is a retired former business owner and volunteer.
Tyler Titus will join the Erie School Board, making him the first out transgender person elected to office in Pennsylvania after a successful write-in campaign to get on the ballot.
Phillipe Cunningham won a close race to become the second transgender candidate ever elected to office in Minnesota, joining Jenkins on the Minneapolis City Council, reports City Pages.
Raven Matherne, who came out as transgender earlier this year, won a seat on the Stamford Board of Representatives.
Matherne is now the first out trans lawmaker in the city.
“On a personal note, [being transgender] played a great role in pushing me to run, but it plays almost no role in my stance on policies and changes that I want to see in government,” she told the Samford Advocate.
Editor’s note: This article was updated to include Matherne.
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About the author: Jeff Taylor is a journalist, artist and social media editor. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, LGBTQ Nation and The Pride L.A. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport and has lived in Charlotte since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @jefftaylorhuman.