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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Feb. 27, 2024

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Woman would be first transgender legislator in state

Vancouver candidate was inspired by Sanders, motivated by restroom debate

By , Columbian Political Writer

Kaitlyn Beck wants to make history.

Beck, of Vancouver, is running for a seat in the Washington Legislature.

At only 20 years old, she wouldn’t be able to legally drink during the legislative session and would be the youngest lawmaker. She would also be the first openly transgender person serving as a Washington state legislator.

Transgender people are still misunderstood in many corners of society, Beck said.

“By having normal people that don’t have daily interaction with transgender people be able to … look at their local newspaper or go online to Facebook and see a transgender person is running for office in their community, it definitely is going to shape that conversation into a more positive (one),” Beck said.

Last legislative session, Washington lawmakers joined the nationwide battle over which restrooms or locker rooms transgender people could use.

“I use women’s restrooms, because let’s be honest, I look like a woman,” Beck said.

Had she been serving in Olympia at the time of the debate, she is convinced she could have positively changed the dialogue.

“There is a lot of fear, because people don’t understand transgender people. They don’t interact with them,” Beck said, adding, “the image a lot of conservative people have of a transgender person is a man in a dress.”

Bernie Sanders inspired Beck to run for office. She saw the presidential candidate as giving a voice to people who traditionally didn’t run for office.

And now, she would like to do the same.

“Our nation needs more transgender elected officials who can be a voice for equality, and electing an openly transgender state legislator for the first time would be a significant step forward,” Aisha Moodie-Mills, the CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund & Institute.

“Throughout our nation’s history, representation in government has been critical to dispelling stereotypes, increasing understanding among communities and securing civil rights. With transgender elected officials taking part in legislative debates and conversations, they can influence lawmaker colleagues and provide important perspective on the issues that affect their lives,” Moodie-Mills said.

Beck grew up in the small town of Paonia, Colo. and moved to the Pacific Northwest the day she graduated from high school.

She is running against Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, for a seat in the 49th Legislative District.

Danni Askini, who is also a transgender woman, announced this year she would run for the 43rd Legislative District but later decided not to run.

Columbian Political Writer