This week I attended the The Victory Institute’s International LGBTQ Leadership Conference in Washington D.C.
Transgender elected officials and candidates were the talk of the conference and subject matter of many breakout sessions.
Everyone was celebrating the victories of the November 2017 election.
In attendance were Danica Roem - Virginal House of Delegates elect,
Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham - Minneapolis City council elect,
Lisa Middleton - Palm Springs City Council elect,
Tyler Titus - Erie Pennsylvania School Board elect,
Vernetta Alston - Durham City Council elect,
They were this years ‘Conference Royalty’.
The Conference last day’s main Plenum was titled ‘Year of the Trans Candidate’.
It would be easy to think these candidates ran on platforms of transgender rights, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Danica spoke passionately about the traffic issues strangling her constituents.
Phillipe was upset with the gentrification of his neighborhoods and the community it was displacing.
Tyler could hardly stop talking about the kids in his district and how many were being left behind.
And so it went with each and every one.
They were concerned with the issues that effected everyone they will now represent. They were not there to single out transgender as some kind of chosen people.
If they did not run with a transgender agenda, why did they run? Why now after all these years of never seeing a transgender candidate?
To answer that you need to look at history, to the acceptance of transgender individuals in society.
In 1999, I moved into my home in New Hope Texas, and at the time there many gravel roads in town. I was concerned with the state of these roads and in 2003 when a council seat was vacated by the existing road commissioner, I jumped at the chance and filled it.
I was trans then as I always have been, but I had to hide it. Society still considered me mentally defective.
Outing myself as trans at that time would have prevented me from the opportunity to serve so I could pave those roads.
Since then something happened, something wonderful. Major psychological organizations declared there was nothing wrong with the transgender mind. They recommended embracing us rather than trying to change us.
Society was introduced to, and began to accept when several celebrities came out as transgender. Then regular people like me came out and showed the world who we were. Now when a person is passionate about issues affecting their community, they can step up and run for office. Being transgender is no longer a barrier to serve.
Going forward, we will see many more transgender people run for and win political office, just like anyone else in this country.