Trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming representation nearly doubles in state legislatures

Eight candidates won races across six states this week

Louise Hall
Friday 06 November 2020 19:01
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Transgender nonbinary and gender-nonconforming representation almost doubled across state legislatures in this year’s US election.

Eight candidates won races across six state legislatures this week, NBC News reported.

Three of the country’s four currently open transgender state legislators, Brianna Titone, Gerri Cannon, and Lisa Bunker, all won re-election, and at least five others won positions on Tuesday.

Joshua Query, who came out as gender-nonconforming in their first term, was re-elected to the statehouse as New Hampshire’s first openly genderqueer representative by 34 votes.

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In Delaware, Sarah McBride became the first transgender state senator in US history and will be the country’s highest-ranking transgender elected official once she takes office.

Ms McBride has played an important role in fighting for discrimination protections in Delaware and has lobbied for the equality act to extent these protections across the US. 

Following her issue-based campaign, she will focus on passing universal pre-K and universal paid family and medical leave.

“I'm proud of my identity, and I'm grateful for the experiences, the lessons and the relationships it has brought me,” she told NBC News.

“We can't create public policy that meets the needs of a diverse community if we don't have the full diversity of that community participating in the conversation. Me being trans is one part of who I am, and it's a part of who I am that I'm going to be proud to bring to that conversation.”

Query, who came out as gender-nonconforming in their first term, told the broadcaster that they wish to work dismantling some of the Legislature’s gendered dress code policies.

“We have a fairly strict, but not written down, dress code in the House, in which anyone who is deemed male has to be wearing a jacket and tie, and we stick to very old-fashioned rules where women must ask the speaker to allow us to take off our jackets,” they said.  

“You know, to enforce people to stick to these gendered kinds of clothing ideas is something that I want to work with leadership and the rest of my LGBTQ caucus in fixing those issues for future legislators.”

In Vermont, Taylor Small became the first transgender person elected to the state Legislature on a campaign which included expansion of health insurance for those impacted in the pandemic.

“I am hoping that this run will inspire more folks one or two years from now to run and serve as a legislator, serve on a school board or serve on town council,” Ms Small said.  

“On a local level, we can make sure that we have these protective factors in place to keep our marginalized community safe.”

In Oklahoma, Mauree Turner, a Democrat who is Black, Muslim and identifies as non-binary, won a seat in the state House, becoming the first non-binary person elected to any state’s legislature.

“I have continuously lived a life where folks doubt my voice or the power that I have,” Turner said. “I wouldn’t have gotten far if I’d let something like that debilitate me.”

Stephanie Byers, who won her seat in the Kansas House of Representatives, became the first transgender woman of colour elected to any state legislature in the US, the broadcaster reported.

Ms Byers, a retired high school band teacher, also became the first Native American transgender person to sit in the Kansas state legislature.

“The ceiling here has been broken; Kansas has made history,” Ms Byers said. “It’s surprising, and you know it's a tremendous thing.”

Danica Roem, who in 2017 became the first openly transgender person elected to a state legislature, is also up for re-election next year, bringing the total number to at least nine transgender nonbinary and gender-nonconforming incumbent’s once they all take office.

Nick Duffy, current affairs editor at Pink News, a newspaper marketed to the LGBT+ community, tweeted that a “seismic shift" was underway in the political landscape.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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