The November 2017 elections turned out to be an historic night for the LGBT community and its allies, not to mention progressives in general.
There were at least 71 openly LGBT candidates running in various elections across the country — from city council races to state legislature races — and at least 55 percent of those candidates won.
Victories by LGBT candidates and other progressives are being hailed as a repudiation of the right-wing tactics and policies of Donald Trump and his followers, especially in Virginia, where voters elected the first trans person to a state legislature, and Democrats swept all the top offices as well as flipping 14 seats in the House of Delegates formerly held by Republicans to take a one-person majority there.
The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund declared 2017 “the Year of the Trans Candidate,” noting that four transgender candidates won their state and local elections last night (Tuesday, Nov. 7), “with one more possible as results trickle in.”
Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of Victory Fund, declared: “Tonight was about fighting back — an unprecedented number of brilliant trans candidates asking for the votes of tens of thousands of Americans, and getting them. They are victorious because they focused on the local issues that matter most to their constituents — better schools, improved transportation and civil rights for all people. But it is also an undeniably historic night for the LGBTQ movement and for trans equality, having moved the needle on what is possible for a trans leader who aspires to run for office and make positive change.”
The most high-profile of those wins came in Virginia, where trans woman Danica Roem swept up 54.36 percent of the votes in the state’s District 13 to defeat 26-year incumbent Bob Marshall in the Virginia House of Delegates. That makes Roem, a former journalist turned public works advocate, the first openly-trans person elected to a state legislature in this country.
What makes Roem’s victory event sweeter and more poetic is the fact that the man she defeated was a “conservative values” candidate who had authored a “bathroom bill” in the state legislature. Marshall said in an interview with NPR that Roem“engage[d] in this behavior — which clearly goes against the laws of nature and nature’s God,” and last month his campaign sent out flyers referring to Roem as “him.”
Roem’s win was part of a huge night for progressives in Virginia overall.
Other trans candidates who won are:
- Andrea Jenkins, elected to the Minneapolis City Council, is the first openly trans woman ever elected to the city council of a major U.S. city, and will be the only openly trans person of color currently serving in elected office anywhere in the nation. (Trans woman of color Althea Gibson was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1992 and served one term, from 1993-95. But she was not openly transgender at the time of her election.)
- Lisa Middleton, elected to the Palm Springs City Council, is the first openly trans person to win a legislative seat in the state of California.
- Tyler Titus, elected to the Erie, Penn., School Board, is the first openly trans person ever elected in Pennsylvania.
- As of 9 a.m. today, results were still being tabulated in the race for the Ward 4 seat on the Minneapolis City Council, with trans man Phillipe Cunningham still in the running to win that seat and join Andrea Jenkins on that city council.
Currently just six openly trans people are elected officials nationwide, the Victory Fund said.
Watch for more coverage of the 2017 elections in Friday’s issue of Dallas Voice.
— Tammye Nash