Christine Hallquist Becomes First Transgender Candidate For Governor In The U.S.
Vermont Democrats nominated a transgender woman for Governor yesterday but she faces long odds in November.
Vermont Democrat Christine Hallquist won her primary race last night to become the first transgender American to be the nominee of a major party for Governor:
BURLINGTON, Vt. — On a cloudy afternoon this summer, Christine Hallquist, a former utility executive from Vermont, listened closely as Danica Roem, the Virginia state delegate who won national recognition when she became the first transgender person elected to her state’s Legislature, offered tips as the pair canvassed a stark residential neighborhood here.
Ms. Hallquist is transgender, too, but Ms. Roem’s advice had nothing to do with gender identity. Try a light, rhythmic knock. Leave a handwritten note with campaign literature if no one is home. Try to earn every vote.
“I have so much to learn,” Ms. Hallquist said, duly incorporating Ms. Roem’s lessons with each new knock.
On Tuesday, those lessons paid off, and Ms. Hallquist, a Democrat, made history of her own. She became the first transgender candidate to be nominated for a governorship by a major party, beating three other candidates in Vermont’s Democratic primary, according to The Associated Press.
“Tonight, we made history,” Ms. Hallquist said, addressing supporters at an election night party in Burlington. She added, “I am so proud to be the face of the Democrats tonight.”
It is a remarkable milestone, even for an election year already dominated by an influx of women and a record number of candidates who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender or queer.
“Christine’s victory is a defining moment in the movement for trans equality and is especially remarkable given how few out trans elected officials there are at any level of government,” said Annise Parker, the chief executive of the L.G.B.T.Q. Victory Fund, which trains and supports gay and transgender candidates, in a statement on Tuesday evening. “Yet Vermont voters chose Christine not because of her gender identity, but because she is an open and authentic candidate with a long history of service to the state, and who speaks to the issues most important to voters.”
Ms. Hallquist was not the only transgender candidate on the ballot in the country in recent days. In Hawaii on Saturday, Kim Coco Iwamoto, a lawyer, lost her bid to be the Democrats’ nominee for lieutenant governor.
And more transgender candidates will be on the ballot soon, including Alexandra Chandler, a former naval intelligence analyst who is running in Massachusetts’s Third District. Ms. Chandler is trying to differentiate herself in a crowded congressional primary in early September by emphasizing both her national security bona fides and the historic nature of her candidacy. “I’m running for Congress,” she said in a recent campaign video, “to be a voice for trans kids out there.”
Notwithstanding her historic win, Hallquist faces an uphill battle if she is going to win in November even in a state such as Vermont. The incumbent Republican Governor, Phil Scott, has been in office since winning the 2016 election and has had a relatively successful first term in office. Because of that, all of the rating agencies currently rate the race as either solidly or safely Republican. It’s possible, of course, that this could change in the future, but as things stand right now it seems unlikely that Hallquist will be successful in her bid for higher office. Nonetheless, the fact that she managed to win the election at all is significant and is yet another sign of that 2018 is likely to be the beginning of a demographic shift in the political world that will see women, Latino, and LGBT candidates succeed far more than they have in the past. All in all, that’s a good thing, and if Hallquist does end up losing one hopes she doesn’t give up on trying to have an impact on American politics.