Andrea Jenkins Is First Openly Transgender Black Woman Elected in U.S.

Andrea Jenkins hugs a supporter as she won the Minneapolis Ward 8: Council Member race in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.Carlos Gonzalez / AP
By Brooke Sopelsa

Andrea Jenkins, a black transgender woman, made history Tuesday as the first black openly transgender woman elected to political office in the United States, LGBTQ advocacy groups and researchers said.

Jenkins, a Democrat, won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council.

“As an out African-American trans-identified woman, I know first-hand the feeling of being marginalized, left out, thrown under the bus. Those days are over. We don’t just want a seat at the table — we want to set the table," Jenkins said in a statement released by her campaign Wednesday.

Jenkins' victory was a handy one, as she earned roughly 73 percent of the vote in the race for an open seat in south Minneapolis. The 56-year-old poet and historian, who transitioned in her 30s, spent years as a policy aide to two previous council members in the same ward.

Althea Garrison, a black transgender woman from Massachusetts, was elected to the state legislature in 1992 and served one term, but she did not self-identify as transgender at the time, according to reports.

Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of Victory Fund, an LGBTQ political action committee that supported Jenkins’ candidacy, said her victory — along with the victory of several other trans candidates on Tuesday — was about “fighting back.”

“Hostile political forces at every level of government are targeting the trans community with legislation and policies that deny their equality,” Moodie-Mills said in a statement sent to NBC News Tuesday night. “Tonight was about fighting back — an unprecedented number of brilliant trans candidates asking for the votes of tens of thousands of Americans, and getting them.”

Moodie-Mills said candidates like Jenkins and Danica Roem, a transgender woman elected to the Virginia State Legislature, were victorious because they focused on local issues. But she also said their victories are “undeniably historic” for the LGBTQ movement.

“[They] moved the needle on what is possible for a trans leader who aspires to run for office and make positive change,” Moodie-Mills said. “Now we have more trans voices in the halls of power, and 2017 will be remembered as the year of the trans candidate.”


Associated Press contributed.