Story at a glance

  • There are a historical number of LGBTQ+ candidates running for office during the 2020 election year.
  • In June, West Virginia elected the state’s first openly transgender official to local office.
  • Now, Louisiana has elected its first openly transgender woman to a political position with the state’s Democratic party.

Just as a rainbow is formed out of thousands of droplets, the “Rainbow Wave” is being formed one LGBTQ+ elected official at a time. Louisiana’s Peyton Rose Michelle and West Virginia’s Rosemary Ketchum are the two latest openly transgender women to make history with their election to political office. 

There are currently 26 openly transgender elected officials in the United States, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, but more are on their way. In the 2020 election cycle, at least 850 LGBTQ+ candidates have appeared or will appear on ballots in the United States, almost twice as many as the 2018 election cycle.


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In June, Ketchum, who ran for city council in Wheeling, W.Va., became the first out transgender person ever elected in West Virginia and just one of four LGBTQ+ people elected to office in the state. 

“Rosemary has shattered a lavender ceiling in West Virginia and will join the growing number of out trans elected officials serving nationwide," Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund said in a statement. "We know Rosemary’s race will inspire other trans people from conservative states to consider a run for office in their communities – and then those candidates will inspire others as well. That virtuous cycle is the key to building trans acceptance and political power long-term.” 

Then on Sunday, Michelle won a seat with the Democratic State Central Committee and became the first openly transgender woman elected to a Louisiana political position. 

While the position isn’t a government office, Michelle told a local news outlet that she hopes to use it as a stepping stone for a political career and potentially run for legislative office in the future. 

“I’m proud to stand for transgender and gender non-conforming people in the state. I’m proud to show them that they, too, can be involved in politics. We are all humans, and we’re worthy of having a voice," she told Big Easy magazine. 


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Published on Jul 13, 2020