Historic Victory in Tennessee as State Elects Its First Transgender Politician Amidst Legislative Hurdles

A transgender woman was elected to Nashville Metro Council, becoming the first openly transgender person to win a race for political office in Tennessee, a deep-red state where the Legislature and the Governor’s Office are controlled by Republicans.

12.9 Percent of the Vote

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Democrat Olivia Hill, who is also a Navy veteran, was elected to one of the four non-partisan seats on the Metro Council of Nashville, securing 12.9 percent of the vote.

Tennessee Reinstates Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Youth

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Hill’s victory comes just months after a US Appeals Court reinstated Tennessee ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Transgender minors in the state are now unable to access care. The state also prohibits gender changes on a driver’s license. 

Drag Shows Are Also Banned

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The state also has laws that ban drag shows.

Historic Female Majority Win

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She was elected alongside three other women, who won four out of five available positions making a historic female-majority in the city’s Metro Council.

Women Are the Majority of Nashville Council

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Women now make up the majority of Nashville’s metro council.

Tennessee Is a Conservative State

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Nashville is a politically liberal city in a majority conservative state.

The First Transgender Woman to Be Elected in Tennessee

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Hill is the first transgender woman to be elected in Tennessee, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, an advocacy group aiming to get LGBTQ+ people into public office.

Nashville Native and a Veteran

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She is a Nashville native and a military veteran, according to her campaign website. She served in the engineering division for ten years, seeing combat in Desert Storm and worked at the Vanderbilt University power plant.

No Political Background

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Hill doesn’t have a political background, and said she put her full faith and trust in her campaign manager, Spencer Bowers.

“I told him in the beginning, ‘If you need somebody to change your water heater, I’m your girl. If you need somebody to repair your engine, I’m your girl. When it comes to campaigns and running them, that’s you,’” she said.

Fixing the Broken Parts of Nashville

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“I just want to take my skills and put it back to continue working,” she said.

“Running for At Large is the best place for me to use my skill and my talent to fix the broken parts of Nashville. I really want to help Nashville’s underground grow at the same rate that we are growing above ground: utilities, power, water, storm drains, sewers, internet, phone service, electrical — I want it to all grow at the same rate we’re growing everything else.”

Hill Sued Her Employer for Workplace Discrimination

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She sued the university in September 2021 after experiencing intense workplace discrimination; the two parties reached an out-of-court settlement.

Advocate for Women’s and LGBTQ Rights

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Hill is an advocate for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, and she has served on the board of directors for the Tennessee Pride Chamber.

“The Ruling Party Thinks I Should Go to the Closet”

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“My expertise is fixing things, and while my focus is repairing Nashville’s outdated infrastructure, I also want to ensure that our city is represented with true diversity in a state where the ruling party thinks I should head to the closet,” Hill said in a media release on Thursday following her win, according to the Associated Press.

LGBTQ Group Applauds Hill’s Victory

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Annise Parker, the president and CEO of the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, applauded Hill’s victory.

Parker noted that Hill’s historic election comes as Tennessee’s state legislature passes laws discriminating against transgender communities.

“Nashville Voters Reject the Hateful Rhetoric”

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“Nashville voters clearly reject the hateful rhetoric that has grown louder in Tennessee politics lately,” Parker said in a statement.

“Olivia’s victory proves that transgender people belong everywhere decisions about them are being made, including local office.”

The post Historic Victory in Tennessee as State Elects Its First Transgender Politician Amidst Legislative Hurdles first appeared on Pulse of Pride

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / W. Scott McGill. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.