Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

New York Times Boosts Trans Political Candidates

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | October 26, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: brittany novotny, Dana Beyer, Kim Coco Iwamoto, stu rasmussen, Victoria Kolakowski

The New York Times yesterday ran an article about several transgender political candidates running in various parts of the country.

It's interesting to note how many such candidates there are.

Are transgender people finally entering the political life of our nation, and not hiding in the shadows?

Well, this is only a handful of people, so I wouldn't go so far, but it is a harbinger of things to come. At this point, I would say that most trans people are severely marginalized, but there is some light peeping through the clouds.

The tone of the Times article suggests that trans political candidates are more of a curiosity than anything else. As Dr. Johnson said of women preachers: "like a dog standing on its hind legs, it does not matter that they do it well, but that they do it at all."

The title of the article is "Advocates Hope Transgender Identity Is Not a Defining One"
Thus, "hope" is what they have, but not about winning, but about whether they are seen as candidates at all, rather than sexual minorities.

But that is not what sets Ms. Sparks apart; it is her past. Until a decade ago, Ms. Sparks was a man, before a gender reassignment surgery. And while her sex may have changed, her politics did not.

And, as their lead in the story, it notes she used to run a sex toy company, is twice-divorced and had electroshock therapy. But lest you think they are saying she is a mere curiosity, it goes out of its way to say this:

And unlike in years past, when such candidates were often considered mere curiosities, several are within striking distance of historic victories...That said, the number of transgender candidates is still small, and often unsuccessful.

They say any publicity is good publicity. And there's no question we're making strides. And being noticed by the Grey Lady is praise indeed. Isn't it?

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With the tone of politics seen this election season, I doubt anyone who is running for an office will come out of the process as clean and with the shine they had going into the campaigns. About nine out of every ten campaign ads I see locally are negative ads directed at the other person running for office. Most of these funded by those mystery groups that no one knows who provided the money to buy the air time. Such a tone in the ads speaks poorly for a Congress with less than a super-majority that can override filibusters.

The question really is how much emphasis the voting public continues to put on someone's past life. Given the tone of the campaigns seen this season it seems unlikely that someones sex change will remain off the table as an issue. After all one woman running for Governor said she is more qualified because she was a mother. The counter of course being, what about all the men who were past Governors, are they therefore unqualified? I find it hard to believe a sex change is going to stay buried on anyone who run for office. Some people still consider a past divorce enough reason to not vote for someone.

I would think it also has to be said how many of us who are Trans are willing to subject ourselves to the bombardment we will likely see if we choose to run for an office. I know I have no interest in putting myself through such an ordeal.

I'm more appalled that Sparks is claiming to be the reincarnation of Harvey Milk, but wants to make it illegal to sit on the sidewalk.

The times, they are a changin'...

Just not fast enough!

Angela Brightfeather | October 27, 2010 10:07 AM

Well, lets face it....with witches running in Delaware, idiots like Palin camaigning all over the place, fear mongers trying to become Senators in Nevada, and a whole bunch of idiots running for election and wanting to privatise Social Security, I think that this is the best time for Transgender people to run for office. These other people make Trans candidates look like moderates and conservatives.

Who would have thought?

At least they're getting attention as trans too, which helps others who won't be running for political office. Who knows how many trans people have won elected office before but no one knew about their history.