The 2018 primary season is in full swing and this election cycle has seen some historically significant moves — including increased numbers of women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color running for office. On Tuesday, August 14, Vermont added a name to the list with their Democratic gubernatorial nominee Christine Hallquist. If you're not familiar with her journey, you could be wondering who is Christine Hallquist? Remember her, because she could be the first openly transgender person ever elected governor — a truly groundbreaking move.
The outcome of Tuesday's Democratic primaries left Hallquist with 47.6 percent of the vote, according to The Washington Post, beating out three other candidates by a pretty sizable lead — James Ehlers, who came in second, ended up with only 22.4 percent of the vote. Should Hallquist beat out Republican incumbent Phil Scott in the general election, she'll become the country's first openly transgender governor, according to The New York Times.
Annise Parker, the chief executive of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, an organization that trains and supports candidates from the LGBTQ community, told the Times in a August 13 statement that Hallquist's victory in Vermont is a real "defining moment" in the work towards trans equality. She added, though, that Vermont didn't just elect Hallquist because of her "gender identity" — but because she'd make a good governor. Parker said,
Christine’s victory is a defining moment in the movement for trans equality and is especially remarkable given how few out trans elected officials there are at any level of government. Yet Vermont voters chose Christine not because of her gender identity, but because she is an open and authentic candidate with a long history of service to the state, and who speaks to the issues most important to voters.
Hallquist is used to making groundbreaking moves. According to CNN, Hallquist openly transitioned while serving as CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative — becoming the first C-level executive to make the transition while on the job. It was actually the response to her journey that gave her the confidence she needed to throw her name in the election ring, she says. Hallquist told CNN in June,
I was sure I was going to lose my job. I was sure I was going to lose respect. But that didn't happen. So this describes the beauty of Vermont. Now I'm at this point where I can't do enough to give back to Vermont.
While Hallquist continues to make waves in Vermont and shape what the future of government might look like, she's not the only trans person to run for office during this election cycle. Kim Coco Iwamoto, another trans candidate and lawyer, ran for lieutenant governor in Hawaii, but lost her bid as part of the primaries on Saturday, August 11, according to The New York Times. There's also Alexandra Chandler, a formal naval intelligence analyst, who will try to snag the Democratic nomination to represent Massachusetts' 3rd District in Congress on Sept. 4, according to The Washington Post.
The country will have to wait and see what happens next on Chandler's end, but Hallquist is the only of the three trans candidates to make it to the general election thus far — and is one step closer to a possible win. The groundbreaking moves of this election cycle show that anything is still possible in 2018.