Phillipe Cunningham first trans man elected to U.S. public office

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
Comments: 1

Building on a night of historic firsts for transgender people, Phillipe Cunningham made history Tuesday night in Minnesota by becoming the first openly transgender man elected to public office anywhere in the United States.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Cunningham won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council by beating out the incumbent Bara Johnson of Ward 4 by a margin of a fewer than 200 votes. The certification of the results was delayed until the day after Election Day because the results were so close and yet to be final.

Cunningham’s win means Minneapolis will have two openly transgender council members. Transgender poet and activist Andrea Jenkins, whose win was announced election night, was also elected to the body. Both Cunningham and Jenkins are the first openly transgender people elected to the city council of a major U.S. city and first openly transgender people of color elected to public office in the United States.

A native of rural Illinois, Cunningham moved to Chicago for his college education at DePaul University and became a special education teacher in Chicago Public Schools. Afterward, Cunningham moved to Minneapolis and was a mayoral appointee to the Youth Violence Prevention Executive Committee, later becoming a senior policy aide to Mayor Betsy Hodges for education, youth success, racial equity and LGBT rights.

Danni Askini, national co-chair of the Breakthrough Fund, which seeks to elect transgender candidates, hailed the news both Cunningham and Jenkins won their elections.

“Today is an historic day for all trans people and especially trans people of color,” Askini said. “We have elected two brilliant, black candidates to the Minneapolis City Council — our co-founder, Andrea Jenkins — and Phillipe Cunningham. And it was the nation’s only trans focused PAC, led by a majority of people of color, that made those victories happen.”

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  • Mitchel Peterr Hansen

    I’ve worked with Phillipe on a few things and I have to say…wow…what a stand-up guy. Genuine, authentic, empathetic, intelligent, down to earth…dude’s got it all. Good for him!