Minneapolis Council member Andrea Jenkins, a Black transgender woman, made history as the first transgender official in the United States to be president of a city council, NBC News reports.
Previously, she made history as the first out Black trans woman elected to public office in 2017 as the council’s vice-president.
JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs of the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ rights group, also congratulated Jenkins on her historic victory.
“The whole of Minneapolis will benefit from the leadership that Councilor Jenkins has delivered since she was first elected in 2017,” Winterhof said. “Councilor Jenkins’s reputation as a tireless advocate, her dedication to public service, and her efficacy in fighting on behalf of those on the margins of society have been recognized and reaffirmed by her peers on the council. We look forward to continuing to work with City Council President Jenkins in the years to come.”
Jenkins said she hopes her latest victory can help bridge gaps in her community.
“I hope that it serves as inspiration for other trans and gender-nonconforming people,” she said.“My vision for this council and for the city of Minneapolis is that we come together and begin the really significant work of healing after our city has been rocked by the murder of George Floyd and so many other Black and brown people who have lost their lives at the hands of the state.”
Jenkins plans to foster a culture of accountability within the city’s police department. Her district happens to be where George Floyd was murdered by former police officer Derek Chauvin. Also, she wants to contribute to the city's “public safety, including access to affordable housing, health care, and living wages.”
Jenkins said the sentencing of Chauvin and the guilty verdict for ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Kim Potter in the killing of Daunte Wright are “sending a message to police officers that, in this community, we are going to hold you accountable.”
The victory of Jenkins comes amid a dramatic increase in anti-trans violence and legislation, which seeks to stifle the progress and limit rights of transgender citizens throughout the country. Despite the many challenges, she hopes that her visibility can serve as an inspiration for other members of the LGBTQ community.
“The attacks on trans and gender-nonconforming people are simply a reaction to the fact that this community … is beginning to really make inroads in our society and show up in spaces where we’re not expected to be,” she said. ”And that’s going to continue, we are not going away, we are not retreating into the background, and we cannot be written out of public life.”