2 Transgender Women Make History With Congressional Primary Wins

No trans person has ever been a major candidate for the House or Senate before.
Senate Democratic candidate Misty Snow is trying to unseat Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a tea party favorite.
Senate Democratic candidate Misty Snow is trying to unseat Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a tea party favorite.
George Frey via Getty Images

WASHINGTON ― Transgender women won two congressional primary races Tuesday night, making history as the first trans people to become major candidates for the U.S. House or Senate.

Utah voters chose Misty Snow (D) to run against Sen. Mike Lee (R) in November. In Colorado, voters picked Misty Plowright (D) to take on Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

It’s a long shot for either to get elected. Utah is a solidly Republican state, and Lamborn’s district in Colorado is extremely conservative. Still, it’s a positive sign that transgender candidates aren’t just out there, they can also advance.

“In what is already shaping up to be one of the most consequential elections for LGBT equality in more than a generation, yesterday’s primary wins by two transgender women candidates continues to add to the historic nature of November’s election,” said Malcolm Lazin, executive director of the Equality Forum, an LGBT rights group. “In many different ways, such as by running for office as an openly LGBT candidate or serving our country in uniform, LGBT people continue to show that we are as much a part of the fabric of America as anybody else.”

Snow, a 30-year-old progressive who works at a grocery story in Salt Lake City, beat her primary opponent Jonathan Swinton by nearly 20 percentage points. She entered the race late, but gained momentum after criticizing Swinton for supporting restrictions on abortion rights. Snow has also called for a minimum wage hike, paid family leave and for cannabis to be legalized.

Plowright, a 33-year-old Army veteran and former Microsoft employee, defeated her primary opponent Donald Martinez by 16 percentage points.

Before both of them, Karen Kerin, a transgender woman, defeated a mix of write-in candidates in 2000 to become the GOP challenger to then-Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Kerin announced her candidacy after no other Republicans stepped forward to challenge him. She lost the general election in a landslide.

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