One political researcher estimates that there are at least 29 openly transgender politicians running races in the U.S. during the 2017 and 2018 elections. During yesterday’s elections across the U.S., five of them won their races in what’s being called a stunning rebuke to Trump’s divisive politics.
So here’s a quick round-up of five trans candidates who won and what makes them so great.
1. Danica Roem (Virginia House of Delegates)
Of all the candidates who won last night, Roem is definitely the most celebrated, probably because she’s the first trans person ever elected to state office, was endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden and because her defeated opponent was Robert G. Marshall, a longtime conservative incumbent who called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe” and who authored a failed transphobic bathroom bill in 2017.
When asked if she wanted to say anything about Marshall after winning last night, Roem said, “I have nothing but nice things to say about Bob. I would never attack one of my constituents, and Bob is now one of my constituents.”
2. Andrea Jenkins (Minneapolis City Council)
Winning over 70% of the vote in a four-way race, Jenkins became the first transgender person ever elected to a major city’s governing body and also one of the first out trans people of color elected to any U.S. office.
She ran on a campaign platform of “developing affordable housing, raising the minimum wage, addressing youth violence as a matter of public health, and supporting minority artist,” according to The Advocate. She is also a historian with the University of Minnesota’s Transgender Oral History Project and an award-winning author of poetry and prose.
3. Lisa Middleton (Palm Springs City Council)
Middleton just become the first openly transgender person elected to a California political office after winning a six-way race for one of two city council seats, also snagging a coveted endorsement from former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. As a result of her election (and the election of an openly bisexual candidate), the Palm Springs City Council is now 100% filled with LGBTQ people.
She ran on a platform highlighting “homelessness and renewable energy, including passing a requirement that all new residential buildings in the city have solar panels,” according to Mercury News.
The 65-year-old candidate lives in Palm Springs with her wife Cheryl, a place she considers more trans-friendly than other areas of the U.S. where transgender politicians are running.
4. Tyler Titus (Erie, Pennsylvania School Board)
Titus became the first openly transgender person elected to office in Pennsylvania by winning one of four available seats on the Erie School Board. He’s a 33-year-old professional counselor who has worked in public and private schools throughout Erie. He is also the father of two boys.
Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, the President and CEO of the Victory Fund, a national organization that helps train LGBTQ political candidates, wrote of Titus’ victory:
“Tyler Titus shattered a lavender ceiling in Pennsylvania today — and his victory will resonate well-beyond state boundaries. Trans people remain severely underrepresented in our politics and government … and Tyler is part of a vanguard of leaders who are determined to be part of the conversation on issues that affect their lives.”
5. Phillipe Cunningham (Minneapolis City Council)
Cunningham won the Fourth Ward seat on the Minneapolis City Council, beating out the 20-year incumbent and current City Council President Barb Johnson. His campaign focused on “poor, working class voters with mid-to low voting propensity scores,” according to The Advocate.
Cunningham’s campaign was helped by Breakthrough, a transgender political action committee. Danni Askini, the Breakthrough fund national co-chair, said of Cunningham’s victory:
We knew they would be tough races but our team worked with the Analyst Institute to craft a precise and evidence driven voter ID, persuasion and turnout program; built a partnership on the ground with OutFront Minnesota; and worked with some of the top notch political operatives in the U.S. When a conservative PAC announced that they would spend $1 million targeting Phillippe and two other progressive challengers, we knew we were close to a win.
Featured image via TPT.org