In a year that has seen a record number of anti-LGBTQ state bills, the Victory Fund found that a historic number of queer folks are running for office, including transgender people, who are running at a 62 percent increase over 2020. Below, check out the stories of seven trans women running for state legislatures across the country in the 2022 midterm elections.
Gerri Canon is an asexual transgender woman who is running for re-election to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. First elected in 2018, Cannon is one of the first out trans people to be elected and to serve in the New Hampshire state legislature. Since her election in 2018, Cannon has introduced many bills to support LGBTQ+ people, including legislation to change all gendered references in the New Hampshire Constitution to be gender-neutral.
If Leigh Finke wins her election to the Minnesota House of Representatives, she will be the first out transgender lawmaker in the Minnesota legislature. A journalist, advocate, and filmmaker by trade, Finke has spent her career advocating for issues including abortion rights, trans liberation, and racial justice. She is also the author of two books on the intersection of queerness and religion – Queerfully and Wonderfully Made: A Handbook for LGBTQ+ Christian Teens and Welcoming and Affirming: A Guide to Supporting and Working with LGBTQ+ Christian Youth.
Jessica Katzenmeyer is hoping to make history with her election to the Wisconsin State Senate. If she wins, Jessica will be the first out transgender woman elected to the Wisconsin legislature and the second transgender state Senator in the country. But advocating for equality at the state level is not new for Katzenmeyer. A former union member and LGBTQ+ rights activist, Katzenmeyer has testified in front of the Wisconsin State Legislature about LGBTQ+ issues.
In 2020, Sarah McBride made history in Delaware when she became the first openly transgender state senator in the country. In her time as a state senator, McBride has accomplished an impressive amount, including passage of a bill to provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave after the birth of a child and six weeks of paid leave for family caregiving. Prior to becoming a state senator, McBride served as the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign.
In 2020, Taylor Small was elected to the Vermont General Assembly and became the first out transgender person to ever serve in the Vermont Legislature. This November, she’s running for re-election, though it’s not her only professional role. She is also the Education Program Manager at the Pride Center of Vermont, where she works to address health disparities in the LGBTQ+ community. She also participates in Drag Queen Story Hours across the state as her drag persona, Nikki Champagne.
In November 2018, Brianna Titone became the first transgender person to serve in the Colorado Legislature, and is currently running for re-election. As a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, Titone has used her platform to fight for LGBTQ+ equality, most notably by passing a bill to ban the gay and trans panic defense, which allows defendants to use a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity as a defense for their violent reaction.
Zooey Zephyr is a progressive, bisexual transgender woman running to represent District 100 in the Montana House of Representatives. For much of her adult life, Zephyr has worked at the University of Montana, where she helped the university integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion practices into their faculty requirements. If she wins her election, Zephyr will become the first out transgender woman ever elected to the Montana legislature.
A BONUS for November 2023!
In her more than four years as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Danica Roem has achieved many things, including the honor of being the nation’s first openly transgender person ever elected to a U.S. state legislature. With an impressive 32 bills passed as a member of the House of Delegates, Roem is now is on the ballot for State Senate. If she wins in November 2023, Roem will be the first out transgender state senator elected in the South.