Meet the 8 transgender candidates who won elections on Tuesday

It was even more historic than we thought.

Phillipe Cunningham, center, poses with supporters at a pride celebration in June. CREDIT: Facebook/Phillipe Cunningham
Phillipe Cunningham, center, poses with supporters at a pride celebration in June. CREDIT: Facebook/Phillipe Cunningham

Danica Roem’s election to the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday was a big win, as she will become the first openly transgender woman to take state office.

But Tuesday’s election was a far bigger win for transgender candidates than most tallies have accounted for. Based on local reports from across the country, ThinkProgress has identified at least eight openly trans candidates who won their races this week.

  • Danica Roem: Roem is not the first openly transgender candidate to win a state race, nor is she the first transgender woman who will serve in state office, but she is the first candidate who will have won and served in state office as an out and proud transgender woman. She also notably beat an opponent, Del. Bob Marshall (R), with a long history of anti-LGBTQ views, including transphobic smears against Roem during the race.

  • Andrea Jenkins: Tuesday night, Andrea Jenkins won her race to serve on the Minneapolis City Council, making her one of the first trans women to serve in a major city’s governing body and one of the first trans people of color to serve in any elected office in the country. She had previously served as a policy aide to the city council and also helped organize a Trans* Equity Summit.

  • Phillipe Cunningham: Jenkins won’t be alone. Results finalized Wednesday found that Phillipe Cunningham, a black trans man, also won his race for the Minneapolis City Council. Like Jenkins, he’s not new to city government, having previously served as a staffer to Mayor Betsy Hodges.

  • Lisa Middleton: Out in California, Lisa Middleton became the first transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in the state, winning a seat on the Palm Springs City Council. Her co-victor, Christy Holstege, identifies as bisexual, so with their elections, the Palm Springs City Council will become the first city government in the country where a majority of the members are LGBTQ.
  • Stephe Koontz: Down in the small city of Doraville, Georgia, which has a population of about 10,000, Stephe Koontz won her race for city council by just six votes. A small business owner and church administrator, Koontz is now the only openly transgender elected official in the entire state of Georgia.
  • Raven Matherne: The city of Stamford, Connecticut elected its first openly transgender lawmaker, Raven Matherne, to its Board of Representatives. At 29, she’s one of the youngest members of the 40-member board, and she’s also believed to be the first transgender lawmaker in Connecticut ever.
  • Tyler Titus: Pennsylvania saw the same milestone. Tyler Titus, a 33-year-old father, won a seat on the Erie School Board, making him the first openly transgender person elected to office in the commonwealth. A clinical psychologist and father of two, Titus pursued a write-in campaign in the primary election to get to the ballot. “Becoming the first openly trans elected official means my community believes in my ability to be a voice and advocate for our children and teachers,” he said in an interview before the election.
  • Gerri Cannon: The school board in Somersworth, New Hampshire will also have its first transgender member. Gerri Cannon won her seat by just six votes. She is the chairperson of PFLAG NH, founder of Tri Ess New England (a support group for trans people and their families), and has also worked with the High Hopes Foundation, a wish-granting organization for chronically or critically ill children in New Hampshire.

Many states are still expected to consider anti-trans legislation in 2018, but Tuesday’s victories demonstrate how quickly transgender visibility and acceptance is accelerating across the country.