Story at a glance
- Taylor Small is one of more than 100 LGBTQ+ candidates elected to political office thus far.
- Small is Vermont’s first transgender legislator and the nation’s fifth.
- The Democrat is part of a “rainbow wave” LGBTQ+ advocates have been predicting.
Being first is historic, but sometimes it’s nice not to be alone.
Taylor Small joined a small but growing club on Tuesday when she became Vermont’s first openly transgender state legislator.
Small, who received both the Democratic Party and Progressive Party nominations, came in second to incumbent Democrat Hal Colston, with 43 percent and 41 percent of the vote respectively, to represent the two-seat Chittenden 6-7 district of Winooski — beating out Independent James Ehler, according to state results. Josh Wronski, the Executive Director of the Vermont Progressive Party, said Small will join the Progressive Caucus in the legislature.
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“I am ecstatic to know that this has happened,” Small told a local news nonprofit. “And that it shows not only the direction the people of Winooski want to go in, the progressive direction, is at the state level too, where we want to go with all our candidates.”
The state, which was called early for Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden, has been historically liberal, but still only had six openly LGBTQ+ legislators in the state House of Representatives before the election.
“The impact of Taylor’s groundbreaking victory cannot be overstated. There are so few transgender people in elected office that nearly every win is a historic one, yet with each barrier broken comes more trans people inspired to do the same. Even pro-equality states like Vermont need trans voices in government to ensure the priorities and concerns of the community are heard. Taylor will bring that perspective to the state House and Vermont can be a leader on trans equality because of it,” Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement.
Small was endorsed by the Victory Fund, which campaigns for LGBTQ+ representation in government, and part of the “rainbow wave” predicted by advocates. While 4.5 percent of adults in the United States identify as LGBTQ+, less than 1 percent of elected officials did before this Election — 0.17 percent to be exact — according to a report from the LGBTQ Victory Institute. In a record year for LGBTQ+ candidates, 167 of the Victory Fund's endorsed LGBTQ+ candidates have won — with 86 races still undecided.
“Something that is really important when we focus on marginalized communities is the lens we bring when looking at bills and legislation. When people in power are typically white, older, wealthier, cisgender, [and] straight, their lens is in supporting the systems of power that already exist,” Small told LGBTQ Nation before the election. “When you bring folks that have marginalized identities that aren’t typically seen in positions of power, it allows those most impacted to be at the forefront of those bills, and understanding the legislation we are making goes beyond ourselves, but is truly community-oriented and focused.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described candidate James Ehler as a "fellow democrat." It has been updated to reflect that Small ran as both the Democratic and Progressive Party nominee and Ehler ran as an Independent.
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