(Article published 01/2021 on Medium)
As the sun comes up on the fifth day of waiting for election results my soul is heavy. I feel exhaustion never felt before. This feeling of fatigue wraps me in a blanket of angst and I haven’t felt rested since Tuesday.
I try to focus on the positive wins for the election while also remembering those are null if we retain our current Republican terror...I mean president. The gains of the Senate and House start to fade away as distant memories the longer I wait to hear what path ahead America has chosen.
Then suddenly Saturday morning delivers me the news I have been waiting for: Joe Biden is our new president-elect. While this news fills me with tears and joy I haven’t felt in four years, Mr. Biden isn’t the win that stands out for me on election night, day, week?
The win that stands out for me are those of Sarah Mcbride and Stephanie Byers. These two names may not evoke much emotion in you but they bring me to the brink of tears. Not because these two powerhouses are women. Not because Stephanie is a Native American woman. Not because Sarah McBride is from one of our union’s smallest states.
These two women are transgendered women. The transgendered women who have been elected by their states to serve in the political arena.
Stephanie Byers is a Native American transgender woman from Wichita, Kansas. She lives here with her wife and is a retired school teacher as well. She is also the newest State Representative for Kansas. Why is this important?
Kansas, being a red-leaning state, seems like the last place we would find progressive elections. Yet, these individuals stood with Byers on her issues at hand and believed she would be the best person to represent them as a State representative.
Also, the constituents in this state proved that no matter your sexual or gender identity; if you are fit for office you are fit for office. Stephanie made history by becoming a transgender state representative. Only four other transgender individuals have ascended to the office of the state legislature. The last thing that should decide her ability to hold office should be the fact that she is a transgender woman.
Kansas, thank you for proving that.
“For me, being transgender is just another aspect of who I am. I am also a member of the Chickasaw Nation. I ride a motorcycle. I’m a musician. I have a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.” -Stephanie Byers on being transgender
Sarah Mcbride is a name you may be familiar with. She is a resident of Delaware and, until recently, served as the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign.
She is also the first transgender woman to be elected as a state senator in the great state of Delaware. This makes Sarah Mcbride the highest-ranking transgender official in the country. That is pretty powerful. Why is this so powerful? Let me paint a scene.
You are a teenager who is on the cusp of 18. All your life you have struggled with your gender identity and have finally accepted that you are not comfortable in the body you were given at birth. As you grow into adulthood, politics has not interested you because no one “like you” is around as a role model.
You are a 25-year-old who is a year out from a surgery that will change your life and you are fighting laws in your state that require so many hoops for this surgery to be allowed. As you begin searching for help in the battle against laws and policy you realize no one in your state legislature is “like you.” Your fight falls on deaf ears as no one who has experienced your struggle is in a powerful enough seat to help you make changes in law and policy.
This is why Byers and McBride winning their respective political seats is so powerful. These beautiful women are showing women “like them” everywhere that no matter who you are, laws and policies are meant to protect you too. If we have more lawmakers and state legislatures who represent the LGBTQIA+ community we can expect more compassion when deciding on our rights.
According to a study done by UCLA last year, 9 million LGBTQIA+ were registered to vote for the 2020 elections. As I write this article I am informed Biden overtook Trump, so I would like to hope that number is much much higher now. My point here is you segregate a huge portion of our population when we are not given opportunities to vote in leaders who represent the US. The lesbians and gays, the bisexuals and transgenders, the queers and intersexuals and asexuals, etc. Our voice is taken away by our lack of representation.
Thank you to Stephanie and Sarah for bringing our voices back to the forefront. The fight is not over and I am happy to be here at the beginning.
“I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too.” -Sarah McBride referring to her win as Delaware State Senator