Metro Weekly

Vermont’s Christine Hallquist, first transgender candidate for governor, says she’s receiving death threats

Hallquist says the death threats have changed how her campaign publicizes its planned appearances

Christine Hallquist – Photo: Facebook.

Vermont’s transgender gubernatorial candidate said she’s been receiving a steady stream of death threats and other personal attacks since her candidacy began drawing national and international attention, reports the Associated Press.

Christine Hallquist, who won the Democratic nomination earlier this month, said most of the threats — which began before she won the primary — have been coming from outside of Vermont. However, she notes that it’s not unusual for people to yell insults at her during public events or campaign appearances.

“Early on when our team assembled I said ‘the more successful we are, the more vitriol and threats we are going to receive,'” Hallquist said told the AP. “It’s kind of a natural outcome of our divided country.”

Hallquist, the first transgender person to have won a major party nomination for governor, faces incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Scott in the November election.

Scott has condemned the threats against Hallquist and said he would not tolerate hate speech or violence against anyone.

“We must — as a society — do better to combat anger and violence,” Scott said. “I’m hopeful Vermonters will join me in ensuring everyone — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or other characteristics — are treated with dignity, respect and acceptance.”

Elliot Imse, a spokesman for The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which is backing Hallquist, told the AP that it is not uncommon for openly LGBTQ candidates to receive threats on the campaign trail.

“While the people of Vermont know Christine as the intelligent executive with a clear vision for their state, her courage in running as an openly trans woman cannot be understated,” Imse said. “It takes guts to be a trailblazer because with it comes opening yourself to attacks from the most hateful among us — it is what the leaders of social change nearly always encounter.”

Due to the threats, most of which have come via the phone or via social media, Hallquist is no longer giving advanced notice of certain appearances and will not publicize the location of her campaign headquarters.

Hallquist says the threats are also changing the way she interacts with the public. She told the AP that she received a call from an-out-of-stater who was staying at a Lamoille County resort who was asking about an upcoming public event.

“Normally, I wouldn’t have thought about it, but we decided not to tell them about events because they are not from Vermont,” she said. “I’m sure it’s perfectly innocent, but with a little heightened awareness, we’re just taking a little extra precaution.”

That said, Hallquist says most voters have been accepting of her candidacy and are not obsessed with her gender identity. She estimates that the campaign has received about a dozen actual death threats, which have been reported to the Vermont State Police and the FBI.

State Police spokesman Adam Silverman told the AP that troopers would be consulting with Hallquist campaign officials to see what their security needs might be.

“We take any threat against a Vermonter seriously and are doing what we can to work with her campaign to make sure the threats are taken seriously and are investigated,” Silverman said.

FBI spokeswoman Sarah Ruane, in the Albany, New York, field office, which covers Vermont, said that she couldn’t comment on how, if at all, the FBI was involved in investigating the threats.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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