Let's start with a handful of people who are currently incumbent. Lisa Bunker, member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives; Brianna Titone, member of the Colorado House of Representatives; and Gerri Cannon, also in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, are all standing for re-election. Even if you are outside of Colorado, you may be familiar with Titone's name as she was recently exposed to targeted ads against LGBTQ campaigns.
And for openly queer candidates who are not incumbents? First, we have Louise Snodgrass. Snodgrass, who is a candidate for the South Dakota State House, aims to become the first openly gendered individual to be elected to a state legislature. No, not just the first in South Dakota – the first in the whole country.
In addition, we have a number of openly transgender candidates who are not incumbents. Stephanie Byers is in the running in Kansas, where, if she wins, she will also be the first openly transgender color to be elected to a state legislature. And yes, much like Snodgrass, this is elected not just in the state assembly in Kansas, but across the country. Taylor Small of Vermont, Jessica Katzenmeyer of Wisconsin, and Madeline Eden of Texas all become the first openly transgender lawmakers in their respective states.
Eden spoke to Outsmart Magazine about her campaign in September and said, "Most of the time, people just don't know anyone like me." She went on to tell the point of sale, “When I came out I was sad about it but never tried to hide it. When people met me, they often changed their minds. "
Speaking to Vice about her race in an interview, Small noted that most of the legislation in Vermont (and across the nation) is white, cisgender, and male. What advice does she have for marginalized people who are wondering if they can or should run? When she says to the point of sale: "S.o For marginalized people we always come across the question: If I can do it, can I do it? And the answer is yes you are and your church will be there to support you. "
For the Delaware Senate, we have Sarah McBride. If McBride wins, she would be the country's first openly transgender senator. Earlier this year, McBride spoke to LGBTQ Nation about her run, saying as she was growing up, “There were certainly no examples of someone like me taking part in public, let alone a leadership seat at the table. Bit by bit I could see how wrong this understandable fear was. "
When Evelyn Rios Stafford becomes a justice of the peace in her district in Arkansas, she will be the first openly transgender person to hold an elected office in the state. While the justice of peace in a district doesn't immediately have the flashy connotation of the presidential race, these races are important. For the voters, of course, but also for the LGBTQ people who continue to face obstacles and systemic oppression in this country.
Why? Because as we have already pointed out, transsexuals are openly confronted with additional obstacles, from housing to work to health care. Even as minors, transgender youth are more likely to be harassed and bullied and less likely to finish high school with a diploma. Every single LGBTQ person in the race is an inspiration, but because transgender and genderqueer folks are so consistently marginalized, their efforts certainly deserve an extra nod and explicit, proud support.