Minneapolis Councilmember Andrea Jenkins has made history, becoming the first out transgender person to ever serve as president of a city council in the United States.
Jenkins, who previously served as the city council’s vice president until she was elected unanimously by her council colleagues on Monday, was the first out Black transgender woman ever elected to a major city council in 2017.
Following municipal and state legislative elections in 2021, there are more than 1,000 concurrently-serving LGBTQ elected officials in various offices throughout the United States, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
But while Jenkins was a consensus candidate, the council was much more harshly divided along ideological lines in its vote for vice president, underscoring the challenges Jenkins will face in putting forth an agenda, moving forward with certain bills, and negotiating compromises between those factions, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
In remarks following her confirmation vote, Jenkins highlighted the council’s racial, religious, and generational diversity, which includes a majority of people of color for the first time, while also emphasizing the importance of collaboration to address pressing issues like public safety and policing, rent control, and housing insecurity.
“We represent a diversity of thought, of ideas and solutions to the most pressing issues of our time,” Jenkins said. “We have a whole lot of work to do.”
Jenkins told NBC News she hopes her latest win serves as inspiration for other transgender and gender-nonconforming people by showing them what they can accomplish.
“My vision for this council and for the city of Minneapolis is that we come together and begin the really significant work of healing after our city has been rocked by the murder of George Floyd and so many other Black and brown people who have lost their lives at the hands of the state,” she said, emphasizing her intention to push for accountability on the part of the police department, in addition to the host of other issues the council expects to address during the upcoming session.
Annise Parker, a former mayor of Houston and the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, which advocates for LGBTQ representation in public office, praised Jenkins’ leadership and the historic nature of her elevation to Council President.
“As major cities face unprecedented challenges wrought by the pandemic and incidents of police brutality, Andrea leads her constituents and our country with the calm but steely determination the moment calls for. The unanimous vote from her colleagues is a recognition of that leadership,” Parker said in a statement.
“Andrea is an elected official who serves all, but relentlessly champions those most marginalized, bringing an unmatched ability to spark empathy across divisions and communities,” she added. “Minneapolis will be a better city with her as president and her history-making election will inspire more trans people to run and lead.”
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