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Nearly 100,000 Vermont Voters Wanted a Trans Woman as Governor

Though Vermont gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist ultimately lost to her Republican opponent on Tuesday, her campaign was a triumph.

by Diana Tourjée
Nov 7 2018, 4:15am

Photo courtesy of Hallquist campaign.

Christine Hallquist made history for transgender people in her gubernatorial run in Vermont this year, though she ultimately lost against her Republican opponent Phil Scott Tuesday night, earning approximately 96,000 votes at the time of reporting, when Hallquist conceded. Had she won, Hallquist would have been the first transgender governor in US history. Nonetheless, her run represents one of the most significant political campaigns for transgender people in American history.

Hallquist was supported by Democratic leaders, including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and former President Barack Obama, who said in October, "Christine is someone who can deliver for all Vermonters. I am proud to support her campaign." Advocates have viewed her race as a major accomplishment for trans Americans, who have been increasingly present in political campaigns since making major gains in 2017 races, like Andrea Jenkins, who became the first out, black transgender woman to be elected to public office when she won her race for City Council in Minneapolis.

Earlier this year, Hallquist told Broadly that she was inspired to run for office in part by Danica Roem’s successful election to Virginia’s House of Representatives in 2017. Though Hallquist’s campaign was focused on issues like rural economic development, she told Broadly she would be “very proud to be the first transgender Governor in the country.”

Hallquist’s loss may be discouraging to those who wanted to see a trans woman hold such high political office, but her campaign represents a new tier of opportunity for trans Americans. Transgender people are vastly underrepresented in the US, only recently beginning to achieve public office, and still just holding thirteen seats of any kind in the nation.

Hallquist’s candidacy has showed that the landscape of American politics is, for the first time, open to trans people at upper levels of government. Hallquist may have lost her election, but nearly 100,000 voters in Vermont wanted a transgender woman to govern their state, and that has never happened before.