I did it! (sort of)
While I am probably the first ever openly transsexual person to qualify to be on the ballot as a candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives, sadly, my campaign may be over before it begins.
Truthfully, running for state House of Representatives has always been one of my aspirations (next to astronaut). It has seemed an unlikely possibility in my life. Even before I was an out transsexual, I had several things in my life that I thought would have precluded me from achieving this goal.
Growing up, I had always considered myself awkward and shy. I never liked to speak in front of small or large groups. Moreover, I had difficulty with one-on-one conversations.
After being accepted to Boston University and MIT, even though my desire was to be an aerospace engineer, I decided to attend the University of Arkansas at Little Rock because I was in love (*gag*). Because high school was so easy for me, I had never learned to study. Suddenly, simply listening in class was not enough. I performed miserably. At the end of the first semester, I enlisted in Air Force.
Surprise! We got pregnant just before I left for basic. Even so, I excelled in training and learned to study. Because of my scores I was given my first pick of vocations and was trained as a Space Systems Equipment Maintenance Specialist. I worked for Space Command. Having lifelong gender issues, I consulted a base psychiatrist – I thought I could be cured. Instead, I was honorably discharged.
Back in civilian life, I worked very hard at every vocation. I made great strides and accomplishments to go as far as I could go, as fast as I could go. Unfortunately, because I was always such a self-starter, I developed quite an ego and separated myself from my peers. As a result, I had been fired from nearly every job I’ve ever had.
During one term of unemployment, I got in trouble for writing hot checks. After seven years of probation, restitution, and court costs, I finally redeemed myself. Nevertheless, I will forever have a felony record, even though my voting rights have been restored.
Through dropping out of college a second time as an young adult, a bitter divorce, losing my children, filing bankruptcy twice, and losing everything but the clothes on my back I never thought I would ever amount to anything.
Fast forward to the present, I’m in a good place. I’m in love. I have a nice home. I have my own business. No, I don’t make as much money as I would like. I have no retirement plan. Because I never finished school, I don’t know as much as I should. I make due with what I have.
Since coming out eleven years ago, I’ve rediscovered myself. I no longer have difficulty talking to people. Through my overcoming my personal struggles I’ve recognized the painful struggles in others. I have a voice and I’m not afraid to use it. People listen to me.
Truthfully, went I entered the race it was a perfect storm. The incumbent was stepping down and no other Democrat had filed to run. With Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Gay Marriage, Employment Non Discrimination Act, and many, many transgender issues in the forefront, I believed this was the perfect time to run.
Not only did I know that I could make a difference in this district, I knew that the entire nation would get the opportunity to see a transsexual person as what we see ourselves as: normal. I wanted people to look at their television and ask themselves what the big deal was? Is this the kind of person that follows little girls into women’s bathroom to molest them? Is this the “man in a dress” that we hear so much about? I wanted people to know they have been lied to.
In my county and the neighboring county in which I do much of my work, much of it is rural and mountainous. I’ve been in mansions and I’ve been in hovels. I’ve walked across flooring that cost more than my house, and I walked through a front door made of a quilt. I’ve met a family whose 12 year old had a new BMW and I met a family that uses the bathroom behind a tree. I’ve marveled that the public schools inspire students to mere mediocrity, at the lack of basic reading comprehension and math skills, and at students that go to school simply because their free lunch will be the only meal they have each day.
I can’t help but remember these words, “Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!”
- I believe that gifted students should be encouraged to excel at their own pace, that average students should be inspired to greatness, and that below average student should be inspired to magnificence.
- I believe that when the economy is poor, tolerance starts to disappear. People need to demonize others to distract themselves from their own misery.
- I believe that courting industry to our region will alleviate our employment issues.
- I believe there can be a balance to increasing industry in our district and maintaining our beautiful Smoky Mountains.
- I believe ignorance perpetuates poverty, poverty leads to crime and unwanted pregnancy.
- I believe that everyone that wants to work should be able to and earn a living wage, and that one parent should be able to earn enough to own a decent home, put good food on the table, and afford modest recreation.
- I believe when there aren’t enough jobs to go around, people may turn to crime to make ends meet; people that can’t work may lose their homes decreasing the value of everyone else’s home.
- I believe that when a person want’s to work but cannot find work, their self-worth decreases. When a person has nothing to do, they feel useless. It is hard to climb back from despair.
- I believe that everyone should have the ability to be healthy and have access to affordable health care. By affordable, I mean if the worst possible health catastrophe were to befall a person, the treatment should cost no more than they would earn in one week.
Of course, there are other more practical items that affect the state and my district. I wish all these dangerous rural roads were required to have shoulders!
Truly, I had the best chance of raising more campaign funds than all of my opponents put together. I would have expected donations to flow in from all over the country. I really believe that had I seen this through to the end, I would win.
While I would gladly sacrifice my livelihood on the alter of public opinion, I did not adequately consider that I would be requiring a sacrifice of those I work with or those close to me. Much to my chagrin, this possible sacrifice was more than those closest to me were willing chance at this time. I cannot blame them.
The most unfortunate discovery was that the political climate and aggressive hatred of transsexuals will probably not change for a long, long time. When it does change, it will only be because someone like me sticks their neck out and takes the first punches.
So as quickly as it began, my campaign for Tennessee State House of Representatives District 8, it may end.
Of course, if there is a mysterious benefactor out there that could cover my salary for a year, I would make all the difference in the world. The people of my district will have never had a representative more effective than me.
So with that, adieu! (for now)