Two members of the U.S. Senate are gay or bisexual. Nine members of the U.S. House are openly gay. And more than 100 LBGTQ+ people have run or are currently running for Congress this year, including 13 seeking to become the first transgender or nonbinary members ever elected.
Maebe A. Girl is one of them.
Maebe, who uses she/they pronouns and identifies as trans nonbinary, currently serves as a Democrat on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council in Los Angeles and is running against incumbent Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Schiff (who got 62% of the primary vote) and Maebe (nearly 13%) advanced to the general election in May under California’s Top 2 primary system, under which the Top 2 vote-getters, regardless of party, move on to the general election.
When NBC News asked her why she decided to run against Schiff, Maebe, who is also a drag queen, said that she was “dissatisfied with [her] current representation” and believes it is time for new leadership.
“He’s a centrist,” she said of Schiff. “He’s one of the most well-funded Democrats and he’s been in office for over 20 years. And he keeps tweeting about how we need this, and we need that, and we have to do this, and we have to do that, [but] you’re already in office. You’ve been in office for over 20 years. If you can’t get these things done by now, then it’s time for new, fresh leadership. And I think that if there’s any place where a progressive, especially a trans nonbinary person can get elected, it’s Los Angeles.”
Maebe’s campaign is centered on issues like health care for all, abolishing ICE and ending all wars. It’s a grassroots campaign with about 70 volunteers and spending almost $24,000 compared to Schiff’s $11.4 million.
A campaign spokesperson for Schiff — who serves as the vice chairman of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and has been endorsed by multiple LGBTQ+ groups — disagrees with Maebe’s assessment.
“Adam doesn’t take any election for granted, and he looks forward to speaking directly with voters about the issues that matter most: attacking inflation, expanding affordable housing, securing universal health care, combatting the climate crisis, protecting Roe, and creating an economy that works for everyone,” the campaign spokesperson said. “His progressive record is unimpeachable — he’s a proud and public supporter of Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. Nobody worked harder to hold Trump accountable or is doing more to protect our democracy.”
Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston who identifies as lesbian, says that it takes time for LGBTQ+ candidates to win at the highest levels of American politics.
“There are more than 100 LGBTQ candidates running for Congress this year... but in order to win at the highest levels of politics, you have to have built a track record. And the most important way to do that is to enter the pipeline at another level,” said Parker, who now serves as the president and CEO of Victory Fund, a PAC working to elect LGBTQ+ leaders across the country.
“Sen. Tammy Baldwin started as a county commissioner, became a state representative, became a member of the House, became a member of the Senate. I started as a council member, became the city controller, became mayor,” added Parker.
Victory Fund has not endorsed Maebe in her bid for this seat.
While Schiff is the overwhelming favorite to win in November, Maebe says she’s been energized by her campaign.
“We’re not asking for special rights. We’re asking for equality and respect. We’re asking to use the bathroom. We’re asking to use the locker room. We’re asking to play sports. We’re not asking for special privileges. ... We’re going to continue to get louder and prouder and more visible and there’s no way we’re going back into the closet.”