Recently, Chevy Chase, MD resident and LGBTQ activist Dr. Dana Beyer announced her democratic candidacy for Maryland State Senate.
“Maryland is a powerful blue state, a bastion of liberal democracy,” she says on her website. “I am running to serve my district, my county and state in Annapolis because I believe I can contribute constructively to make Maryland a place that will attract a new generation.”
We spoke with Beyer about her platform, lessons learned, and issues facing LGBTQ Maryland residents.
Why are you running for Maryland State Senate? Why is it important to you?
Our liberal constitutional republic is facing its worst threat ever, and it is clear that Maryland, under our federal system, has an important role to play in defending our residents. More than ever, good character is an essential attribute for our representatives, along with the ability to successfully defend our people and lead us back to be a strong and sane nation. I will use my voice and strength to that end in the Senate.
You ran in the Democratic primaries in 2014. What did you learn then that you think will make you a stronger candidate now?
Each campaign has been a learning experience; the 2014 campaign was my first one-on-one. It was difficult running against a popular (and gay) incumbent. Today that is no longer the case, and I am running by re-introducing myself to my neighbors as well as showing them my opponent’s true record. He’s already done a lot of damage to himself in public through unforced errors.
If you win this year, what do you hope to accomplish?
Before the 2016 coup my primary concerns were shoring up the health care system and moving us along the path to single payer, as well as seriously confronting global warming. While those are still my two top state concerns, my major concern is saving our liberal democratic constitutional republic and defending our state, and particularly those who are most vulnerable, against the ravages of the federal regime.
We are seeing more trans candidates running for office across the country. Why do you think that is?
Over the past fifteen years more people have been living openly, and being active in politics on all levels, and since Jenner’s coming out the percentage of Americans who know a trans person has skyrocketed to 35% from 8%. As people are becoming more familiar with us, they become more comfortable, and one’s identity becomes less of an issue. Then there’s the blue tsunami, where we’ve seen candidates from many marginalized communities win last year because they weren’t running as Republicans. Voters were willing to take a chance even though those candidates were “different.” It helps to have the wind at your back.
As a trans woman, why is it important for you to run for Maryland State Senate?
I’m not running because I’m trans, I’m running in spite of it. As the Victory Fund has long taught – “you’re not a gay candidate, you’re a candidate who happens to be gay.” I’m committed to public service, have been my entire life, and I learned shortly after my transition that the fact of my transition needn’t be an insurmountable obstacle to public service. I haven’t been elected yet, but I’ve helped make it possible for others, and in doing so, helped change the world to make it possible for even more to do so. I’m committed to liberty and equality, and consider myself an American patriot committed to our constitutional republic. I do believe it would be beneficial to the trans and larger queer community to have a trans woman in a state senate committed to those principles and willing to fight for them.
What issues do you think LGBTQ Marylanders face?
The primary concerns that I’ve seen relate to issues of class and race in conjunction with sexuality. Homelessness, violence, and inadequate employment opportunities are problems for many of the poor and those in the African-American American communities, and they are compounded by the resistance to and intolerance of the trans community that still exists in our state. The lesbian, gay, and bisexual community fares better, but still faces challenges as well.
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
I was a quarterback in high school, and played hockey in college.
Anything else you want us to know?
Back in 2009, at the first Pride celebration in the White House, the President told me to persevere. I had told him that I had worked in his father’s tribal homeland in Kenya, and he was impressed I had run for office, being only the second openly trans person to do so. He talked about how he was never expected by many to succeed, but once he made up his mind he persevered, and ultimately succeeded. What he accomplished was once thought impossible; what I and others like me once thought was impossible is also no longer seen as such. We can make our own world if we commit ourselves to try.