Minneapolis Swears in First Trans People of Color to Hold Public Office in U.S.

Minneapolis Swears in First Trans People of Color to Hold Public Office in U.S.

Tuesday marked a historic first in the city of Minneapolis: Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham were sworn into as members of its city councilmaking them, respectively, the first transgender people of color to hold public office in the United States.

Cunningham, who defeated incumbent Barbara Johnson in the Nov. 7 special election, called the swearing-in ceremony the “greatest honor of [his] life.”

“I held the hand of my beloved as I took the oath of office,” he said in a statement posted to Facebook. “This moment is beyond my wildest dreams. I wear the title of Council Member as a constant reminder of the Northsiders who are counting on me. I will strive for nothing less than to serve my community and all of Minneapolis with excellence.”

The 30-year-old stood beside his husband, Lane, as he was officially anointed a representative of Minneapolis’ 4th Ward. The two were married in July 2015, just days after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions.

Cunningham, a former aide to the mayor, was joined in the momentous occasion by Jenkinswho ran virtually unopposed in the 2017 elections.

Like Cunningham, Jenkins has amassed an extensive background in public service. The 56-year-old served as a social worker and community organizer, as well as an oral historian for the University of Minnesota, prior to being voted into office during last year’s special elections. She also was an advisor to two city councilmen prior to her candidacy.

Following her Tuesday swearing in, Jenkins claimed she was “so proud to represent Ward 8 in the City of Minneapolis” in a note to followers on social media.

Many cities and municipalities will enjoy their first-ever LGBTQ office holders as more queer and trans people elected in 2017 take office in the coming weeks. At least 40 LGBTQ candidates won their respective races in November, the most ever in a single election.

This total includes eight openly trans politicians, including Lisa Middleton of the Palm Springs City Council and Danica Roem of the Virginia House of Delegates.


Nico Lang

Nico Lang is a staff writer for INTO, covering news, politics, and global LGBTQ issues.