Transgender Candidates And Allies Win Big in Tuesday Elections

By Shane Stahl • November 8, 2017 • 12:55 pm

Tuesday’s Election Day results provided a multitude of wins across several states for LGBTQ candidates and their allies. From governorships to city council races, many candidates made history with their victories and have set the stage to bring more LGBTQ voices to the table in legislatures across the country.

“One year ago, so many Americans woke up feeling scared and unsure about what the future would hold. Today, LGBTQ people – and particularly transgender Americans – are waking up feeling empowered and excited for the work ahead of us,” said Kasey Suffredini, Freedom for All Americans’ Acting CEO & President of Strategy. “From coast to coast, Americans rejected divisive and discriminatory rhetoric about what it means to be transgender. Instead, they looked at transgender candidates as their fellow neighbors, they listened to their proposals for improving local communities, and they voted accordingly. As more transgender people attain elected office, our communities will become fairer, safer, and more equitable places to live and work.”

Here’s a sampling of Tuesday’s results:

Danica Roem Becomes the First Openly Transgender Person to Be Elected to a State Legislature

Danica Roem, running for election in Virginia’s 13th Congressional District, proved victorious last night in a race that was being closely watched by allies of equality and fairness. With her election, she becomes the first openly transgender candidate in the country to ever serve in a state legislative body. Her opponent, notoriously anti-LGBTQ incumbent Robert G. Marshall, had previously introduced a discriminatory bill restricting restroom access for transgender people, which was killed in committee in January of this year. In her victory speech, Roem stated unequivocally, “This election must prove that discrimination is a disqualifier.” Roem will begin her term in January 2018.

Andrea Jenkins, Transgender Woman of Color, Elected to Minneapolis City Council

With a victory in the Minneapolis Ward 8 city council race, Andrea Jenkins becomes the first openly transgender woman elected to a city’s governing body; Jenkins further makes history by becoming the first openly transgender person of color elected to any office in the country. During her campaign, she picked up the important endorsement of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who called her highly qualified and ready for the job. Final results show that Jenkins won her race with more than 70 percent of the overall vote.

Doraville, GA Elects Stephe Koontz to City Council as First Transgender Legislator in the State

Stephe Koontz, an openly transgender woman, was elected to Doraville, Georgia city council on Tuesday night, defeating incumbent Lee Flier on the strength of absentee ballots. A 32-year resident of Doraville, Koontz emphasized the welcoming atmosphere of her city during her campaign. “Doraville is incredibly diverse, and especially now, people need to see that transgender people are just normal people, looking to be happy and to be accepted. As far as the city, it would show that, yes, Doraville does welcome diversity.”

Palm Springs Elects Lisa Middleton, First Transgender City Council Member

Lisa Middleton was elected to city council on Palm Springs, California on Tuesday, becoming California’s first ever transgender legislator elected to a non-judicial office. Middleton took nearly 30 percent of the overall vote along with fellow victor Christy Holstege, a lawyer who has done extensive practice and pro bono work for the LGBTQ community. Early in her campaign, Middleton picked up the endorsement of openly lesbian incumbent Ginny Foat, who decided not to run for re-election. Foat said, in part, “I never had a woman running for council who I felt I could support [but] this year, when I found out that these two were running…I said to my wife, ‘It’s time, I can retire now.” Middleton will begin her term in January.

Tyler Titus Wins Pennsylvania Race, Becoming State’s First Elected Transgender Official

Openly transgender man Tyler Titus claimed victory Tuesday night in his race for a seat on the Erie, Pennsylvania school board, in the process becoming the state’s first elected transgender official. Titus is a licensed professional clinical counselor and 33-year old father of four; he won one of four open seats up for election. Titus has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ causes, particularly homelessness among LGBTQ youth.

Transgender Woman Gerri Cannon Victorious In Somerville, NH School Board Race

Gerri Cannon of Somerville, New Hampshire won a seat on the city’s school board Tuesday evening. Cannon had been competing with five other candidates for four open seats. A longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights, Cannon is the Chairperson of PFLAG New Hampshire as well as a board member, and also sits on the Steering Committee of Freedom New Hampshire, the statewide group working to pass comprehensive non-discrimination laws for LGBTQ people in the Granite State.


Transgender Man Phillipe Cunningham Defeats 20-Year Incumbent in Minneapolis Council Race

Late Wednesday afternoon, Phillipe Cunningham was declared the winner in a closely contested City Council race in Minneapolis. With his victory, he unseats 20-year incumbent Barb Johnson; previously, he served on the City of Minneapolis’ Youth Violence Prevention Executive Committee. During his campaign, Cunningham continually emphasized how North Minneapolis provided him a sense of community and safety as a black transgender man that he had never felt before. Cunningham lives in the neighborhood of McKinley with his husband, where he serves on the McKinley Board of Directors.

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