The Green Mountain State may make history as Vermonters will be able to elect an openly transgender lawmaker to the House.
This comes as incumbent Rep. Diana Gonzalez decided to step down. Now, two democratic candidates are running for her spot as state representative. Both of which are political newcomers but nonetheless determined to acknowledge residents’ ideas and concerns.
But candidate Taylor Small says she doesn’t want her campaign to be reduced to her identity.
“It’s hard not put a lens on the fact that I am a transgender woman doing this run. But I think it is such a small piece of this campaign because it goes so far beyond that,” said Small.
Small hopes to represent identities of all marginalized communities. Mike Bensel, Executive Director of Pride Center in Vermont says, generally, LGBTQ+ Vermonters have not been given political opportunities like these in the past.
“Seeing more trans and LGBTQ+ folks running for office is a real opportunity for authentic leadership to be informed by lived experience,” said Bensel.
Jordan Matte, a fourth-generation Winooski resident, is also running for office. Though he wasn’t available to speak on-camera, he provided a statement.
“I’ve wanted to do something for the place I grew up in and figured this is the most ideal time for me to run, especially with an incumbent stepping down,” said Matte.
Small’s candidacy comes after two other out transgender women from Milton and Bennington announced their campaigns for state office. Small says she’s ready to represent and support Vermonters who are impoverished, have disabilities, or a marginalized racial identity.
“It’s hard, and running a historic campaign and knowing that Vermont hasn’t elected an out transgender lawmaker yet, I think it’s time. I think we all think it is time that our Vermont legislature is actually representative of the people that we are serving,” said Small.
Both candidates will appear on the ballot Tuesday, August 11 in the primary election.