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U.S. transgender candidates could make history in upcoming races

Transgender candidates, running for political office in unprecedented numbers in the United States this year, could make history in upcoming primary elections by securing Democratic Party nominations in races in three states.

Kim Coco Iwamoto is up for the party's nomination for lieutenant governor of Hawaii on Saturday. Christine Hallquist leads in fundraising among Democrats seeking the nomination for governor of Vermont on Tuesday. And Alexandra Chandler is among 10 Democrats running in Massachusetts' 3rd Congressional District on Sept. 4. Any of them would be the first openly transgender person to win a major party nomination for such an office in the United States.

"I do recognize the historic importance," Hallquist said in an interview. "That said, people in Vermont are going to elect me for what I'm bringing to Vermont. Very few people are going to vote because I am transgender."

The elections come at a time of uncertainty for transgender rights, which expanded under the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama. They have been reversed under Republican President Donald Trump's administration, a victory for religious conservatives who only recognize traditional gender roles. The Trump administration has sought to ban transgender people from serving in the military, revoked anti-discrimination protection for transgender people in employment and rescinded guidelines directing public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.

This year, 43 transgender candidates have run for political office at all levels in the United States, most of them Democrats but a few running as independents, for the Green Party or for nonpartisan offices, according to Logan Casey, a research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Only four have won primaries so far, all at the statehouse level, and have a general election ahead. Sixteen have lost primary or general elections and 23 have yet to face voters, Casey's research shows.

Transgender candidates are hoping to build on the breakthrough year of 2017, when at least 10 won office across the country at levels ranging from state legislator to zoning board - the most ever recorded.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Päivitetty/Updated: 10.08.2018




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