Who Is Christine Hallquist, First Transgender Woman Candidate For Governor In U.S. History?
In April, Christine Hallquist officially announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor of Vermont, becoming the first openly transgender gubernatorial candidate in the nation’s history.
Hallquist, who is mother of a son, studied engineering, worked as a consultant and joined the Vermont Electric Coop in 1998, rising to become its CEO in 2005. She came out as a woman in 2015 after a culmination of an eight-year gender transition.
Rather than making her gender identity a focus of her campaign, she is running, essentially, as a technocrat. Her signature issue is a plan to revitalize rural Vermont by laying high-speed, fiber optic cable statewide.
Vermont has a longstanding progressive culture. It was the first state to abolishing slavery, the first to grant same-sex couples civil unions with full marriage rights, and the first to legalize same-sex marriage through its legislature, rather than by court ruling.
Hallquist is one of 400 LGBTQ candidates this year but appears to be only the third openly transgender candidate to even seek statewide office. Kim Coco Iwamoto is running for Hawaii’s lieutenant governor, and Chelsea Manning is ran for U.S. Senate in Maryland earlier this year.
“We can enter political space,” said attendee Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who served as Barack Obama’s last director of LGBT outreach and was the first openly transgender White House staffer, of transgender people’s greater visibility in the electoral realm, told Politico.
Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which supports LGBTQ candidates and recently endorsed Hallquist said, “Christine will be a historic figure if she wins the nomination, whether or not she becomes the governor. If she becomes the governor, she has the potential to be a role model for every trans kid in America.”
“Thousands of people have fought for freedom before me and died for freedom,” Hallquist told Politico. “The least I could do is give up my retirement.”