When Trump took his place in the White House on January 20th, 2017 one of his first acts was to remove all mention of LGBTQIA+ people from the White House, Department of Labor, and Department of State websites. As he scrubbed clean any pre-election alliance he claimed to the queer community, he actively worked to scrub LGBTQIA+ folks out of existence too. He would spend the next four years removing anti-discrimination protections in the workforce, schools, healthcare, and abroad. Anti-queer Supreme Court nominations, the role back of discrimination laws to protect religion over human rights, and banning transgender people from the military, housing shelters, and prison cells because of the belief sex equals gender identity have put LGBTQIA+ lives at risk.
Guess what, motherfucker? We have a new president now, and a lot of LGTBQIA+ folks who were recently elected to office who are going to restore the safety and rights we deserve as American citizens who happen to be queer.
Pete Buttigieg made waves as a gay man when he ran for president and will likely find himself in Biden’s Cabinet, which is much better than being in a closet. Kamala Harris has already picked out Black lesbian Karine Jean-Pierre as her Chief of Staff. Last year Jean-Pierre told The Advocate, “Representation matters. That is why I find so many of these young newly-elected members of Congress — many of whom are women and women of color — so inspiring.”
Queer representation matters for many reasons, especially in politics. It’s imperative to have someone at the table making arguments on behalf of a community that is marginalized and openly and legally discriminated against because of our existence and audacity to announce our identities. We need queer people in the rooms where bills and laws are being drafted either for or against us; for too long those doors have been closed. Thanks to a record-breaking number of LGBTQIA+ candidates on the ballots this year, with 570 voted on during the presidential election, 160 queer people will be taking their seats in state legislatures from coast to coast.
Let’s take a look at some of the people who made history, got a little payback in the process, and understand the cross-section of race and identity and the importance of upholding all intersections to improve the thread count of this nation.
Charmaine McGuffey’s election night win was one of those fuck you wins that reminds me karma and justice will eventually prevail. McGuffey is an openly gay woman and was fired from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department three years ago. She maintains it was because of her sexuality, and her lawsuit against the department is pending. McGuffey challenged the man who fired her and is now the new elected sheriff in town.
Sarah McBride was elected to Delaware’s State Senate and will be the highest-ranking, out transgender official in America. She will be able to waltz into the bathroom that best suits her gender identity despite many of her constitutes having voted against her right to do so in court battles across the country.
Taylor Small became the first transgender person to be elected to Vermont’s state legislature. She also turned down endorsements from organizations that didn’t support the Black Lives Matter movement.
And just like Black voters showed up and voted out Trump, LGBTQIA+ POC and Black folks are about to get shit done for the queer community too.
Michele Rayner will be the first Black, queer woman to serve in the Florida State House.
Shevrin Jones is a Black man who will be the first out queer person elected to the Florida State Senate.
Malcolm Kenyatta was the first out, queer POC to be elected the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2018. He was reelected this year and continues to fight against voter suppression.
Stephanie Byers was elected to the Kansas State House and is the first transgender person of color to be elected to any state legislature in the country.
Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones became the first Black and openly queer members of Congress in New York.
Conservative states like Tennessee, Georgia, and New Mexico also placed queer folks into state legislature.
The election win that provided the representation I and so many others need was that of Mauree Turner. They broke all kinds of barriers and became the first nonbinary state legislator in the country by winning a seat in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives. They are also the first Muslim to serve in Oklahoma’s state legislature.
As a nonbinary person actively fighting for queer rights for myself, my transgender daughter, and my community within a heteronormative system that continues to prop up binary, cisgender lives, I’m exhausted by continuously having to explain and prove my worth. Cisgender people should announce their pronouns, but it’s another thing when those cisgender people are asked to use and respect the pronouns of all genders. My hope is that with more nonbinary people in office, I won’t have to justify the use of my gender neutral pronouns as often as I do now.
There is still so much to be done for transgender and queer rights, including undoing the harm the Trump administration caused. Queer folks aren’t asking for more than our cisgender and straight peers. We want job security, health care, and protections for our kids. We want to be able to enter places of worship, business, and education without fear of discrimination, harassment, or death. We want to struggle and worry less. We want to live and love out loud without the noise of our existence inviting bigotry and violence.
There is absolutely a queer agenda, and I’m so thankful for the LGBTQIA+ politicians who are here for it.
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