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

Jenkins, who was elected to the Minneapolis City Council, is one of several transgender political candidates to win on Tuesday.

by Brooke Sopelsa /
Image:Carlos Gonzalez / AP

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.”

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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.”

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