By Betsy Rothstein - 03/27/07 05:24 PM EDT
Getting arrested is becoming blasé for Midgelle Regina Potts.
Born Mitchell Eugene Potts, Midge changed her name last year to reflect her belief that she is a woman.
She has been arrested five times in Washington.
There were the two times protesting in front of the White House, another at the Supreme Court, another at the Senate Gallery and still another at Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) office when she sat reading the names of dead soldiers. She has a date in court on May 15.
“They’re all misdemeanors,” she says, passing the arrests off as just another day in the life of an anti-war protester.
In recent weeks, Potts, a member of the anti-war crusade group Code Pink, has turned herself into a splashy presence on Capitol Hill and a known quantity in most congressional offices. She attends high-profile hearings and sits in prime TV spots right behind key witnesses such as Valerie Plame.
Potts, 38, is still pre-op, but has begun hormonal therapy to become a woman. She hopes someday to have the surgical procedure that will fully make her a woman. For now, she dresses the part and dyes her long hair blond (with pink Manic Panic highlights for Code Pink) and wears a face full of peachy-pink blush, pink lipstick and blue eye shadow. She isn’t as attentive to her nails — they are red and chipped.
As she walks with ease in her white sneakers through the Russell Building to the Hart Building, Potts attracts stares and whiplash glances wherever she goes.
On the day we met last week, she wore blue jeans and layered mismatched pink tops and a clashing rainbow scarf. Perched on her head is a pale-pink pillbox hat (do not think Jackie O). On the hat is a sticker that reads, “Defund the war.”
Potts leads the life of a professional protester. Living on Social Security disability, she protests full-time. She comes to Capitol Hill each morning between 7 and 8 and leaves around 5.
In 2002, before the war in Iraq had begun, she came to Washington and joined a month-long anti-war vigil in front of the White House. In 2006 she ran in the primary against then-House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and garnered 7 percent of the vote.
During the interview, she spots some women in pink across the way and says urgently, “I have to talk to my friends.” The women, one of whom is wearing a gaudy pink rubber crown, are delighted to see her. The trio discusses who should attend Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) press conference.
Born in Springfield, Mo., Potts was raised primarily in Oak Park, Calif., until she was 14. She attended Kickapoo High School in Springfield — the same school, she brags, as Brad Pitt.
In the early ’90s she was in the Navy and was sent over to the Persian Gulf on a ship. Potts says she was honorably discharged because of physical and emotional problems: “I was kind of lost for a couple of years, you know what I mean?”
In 1996, she says, she attended the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and began going on peace walks.
So what does she want to accomplish right now, right here on Capitol Hill?
“I am here to protest against the war and what I feel is American imperialism,” she says, explaining the bond she feels with the other Code Pink ladies who live together in a three-story house five blocks from Union Station. “It’s really nice because we’re all on the same page.”