History Transcending: Transgender Candidates of 2017

Danica Roem
In 2017, a number of transgender candidates won races in their respective states and districts for various positions of public office.  Many trans candidates have run for public office this year. While most have lost their races, never made it through the primaries or dropped out before the election; four candidates have won their respective races, two are to be determined and the stage has been set for many other candidates in 2018.

Danica Roem, is the first openly transgender candidate to win a seat in a state legislature in American history. She ran in the state of Virginia against incumbent Bob Marshall, who held the seat for 25 years. Roem ran on local issues, campaigning for infrastructure, teacher pay, equality, and jobs. Marshall mostly ran against his opponent, placing ads on TV misgendering Roem. He also considered himself the state's "homophobe-in-chief", lauding his own version of the anti-LGBT legislation which would have prevented transgender people from using the restroom that coincides with their gender identity. Danica beat Marshall by a double-digit percentage and broke a barrier for the community.

Andrea Jenkins is one of two transgender candidates that ran for city council in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The other, a transman named Phillipe Cunningham came in a close second in his race for a city council seat. Jenkins, however, won her race with 70% of the vote. She has worked as an aide to the city council for twelve years, as well as a curator for the Transgender Oral History Project. She also participates in the Trans Lives Matter movement. She also was the Grand Marshal for the Twin Cities parade in 2015. She is also a writer, poet, activist and performance artist.

 Jackie Ryan won her race for the school board of Southbridge, Massachusetts earlier in the year. She is the first openly transgender individual to be elected to public office in Massachusetts. She worked with elected leaders and activists in the state to enact a bill that protects transgender people in public accommodations and is pushing to have similar bills enacted across the nation. She also serves in a variety of roles related and unrelated to the LGBT community, including as a member of the Electoral College.
Tyler Titus won his bid for the school board in Erie, Pennsylvania on November 7th. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor, youth advocate, trauma specialist, public speaker and community leader. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Greater Erie Alliance for Equality and the Crime Victim Center. Tyler strives to develop ways to reach populations in communities that are commonly over-looked and under-served. He has made presentations where he speaks on the suicide risks in the LGBTQ+ community.

Lisa Middleton ran for City Council in Palm Springs, California. As of writing this article she is in the lead in her race and will likely be elected. Anything could happen though. Lisa has a long history of working in her community and is known for building relationships and has run a campaign based on ensuring that public services are efficient and effective. She has served in so many positions that it's impossible to list them in one paragraph. Some of which include, Member of the Board of Directors of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert and at the Equality California Institute. She has also received honors from a variety of organizations for her work.

Stephe Koontz is a transgender business owner who ran for the office of the City Council in Doraville, Georgia. I just looked at her race results and with 100% of precincts reporting, she leads her opponent by four votes. FOUR VOTES! She ran on the subjects of green living, revamping public school facilities, affordable housing, and developing more shopping options in her city. Based on the outcome of this vote, I wouldn't be surprised if a recount happens. But the fact that she has accomplished this in a predominately red state in the deep south is noteworthy.

In 2018, there are a plethora of transgender candidates running for public office all over the country, including one for Governor in Connecticut. As a community, we should do our utmost to support these candidates by spreading the word in their/our communities and pushing to get them as many votes as possible. I look forward to how the candidates elected yesterday will perform in their roles and how we as a community will start having a say in public policy at all levels of government.

Kristelle's Story: Table of Contents