Trans, Non-Binary Candidates Lead Rainbow Wave in Statehouses

Out trans Kansas state House candidate Stephanie Byers is the first out trans person of color elected to a statehouse in America.
Facebook/ Stephanie Byers

Transgender and non-binary candidates running for posts in statehouses across the nation scored historic victories on election night, marking the beginning of a new era of trans representation in politics.

The election also proved to bring intersectional diversity to statehouses, with a wave of LGBTQ people of color winning seats and queer candidates in multiple states becoming the first out lawmakers in their respective state’s legislatures.

Out transgender State Senate candidate Sarah McBride won her general election race in Delaware and became the highest-ranking trans elected official in the nation, while out trans Kansas State House of Representatives candidate Stephanie Byers emerged victorious and made history as the first trans person of color elected to a statehouse in the nation. Byers, who is a member of the Native American Chickasaw Nation, is also the first trans person elected to the Kansas Legislature.

Queer candidates of color bring series of “firsts” to their respective states

In Oklahoma, Mauree Turner won their race for a seat in the State House of Representatives and became the first out non-binary state lawmaker in the nation and Oklahoma’s first Muslim state lawmaker.

Mauree Turner is the first out non-binary state lawmaker in the United States.Facebook/ Mauree Turner

Out trans Vermont State House of Representatives candidate Taylor Small, a 26-year-old who works as the director of the health and wellness program at the Pride Center of Vermont, also brought queer representation to the Vermont Legislature for the first time ever after winning a seat of her own.

Meanwhile, other queer candidates found success all over the map. Out bisexual candidate Jess Benham, running to become a state representative in Pennsylvania, won with ease as she became the first out LGBTQ woman to hold office in that state. Benham will be one of the few out autistic individuals to serve as a state lawmaker.

In New York, as Gay City News earlier reported, out gay school teacher Jabari Brisport ran unopposed as he secured a State Senate seat in Brooklyn and became the state’s first out Black LGBTQ person in either chamber of the Legislature, while another State Senate candidate, Tiara Mack of Rhode Island, became the first out LGBTQ Black member of her state’s upper chamber.

Down in Georgia, much of the attention has been focused squarely on the tight presidential race and the twin Senate competitions — but those are not the only consequential battles in that key Southern state. Out Black lesbian State Senate candidate Kim Jackson walloped her Republican competitor, William Freeman, getting more than four times as many votes as he did as she became the first out LGBTQ member of Georgia’s upper chamber.

And though Florida did not go the Democrats’ way in the presidential election, there were still some silver linings: out gay Florida State Representative Shevrin Jones, who is Black, knocked off a nearly a half-dozen candidates in a State Senate race as he routed the competition and brought LGBTQ representation to the upper house for the first time. Florida House of Representatives candidate Michele Rayner was elected as the first out LGBTQ Black woman in the State Legislature.

On the West Coast, 25-year-old Alex Lee easily won, becoming the youngest Asian-American to join the California State Assembly and the first out bisexual member of the State Legislature.

David Ortiz (not to be confused with the former Red Sox slugger) brought bisexual representation to the State Legislature in Colorado, which has an out gay governor in Jared Polis. Ortiz unseated incumbent Republican Richard Champion.

Voters in Hawaii, meanwhile, welcomed Adrian Tam to the Hawaii House of Representatives as he knocked off Nick Ochs, a leading figure in that state’s chapter of the Proud Boys. Tam rose to office as the only out LGBTQ person in the State Legislature.

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