Minneapolis Democrat Andrea Jenkins became the first openly transgender city council president in American history last week, following the Minneapolis City Council’s unanimous vote.
In her position, Jenkins will advocate for affordable housing, accessible healthcare, livable wages and further accountability within the Minneapolis police force—according to NBC News.
Jenkins has been paving the way for future Black trans politicians for years. She made waves in 2017 as the first Black transgender woman elected to public office, earning her seat on the Minneapolis City Council.
Jenkins is also an artist and historian, facets of her life that she often incorporates into her political work. She frequently reads poetry at the podium, and shared a new piece during her acceptance speech.
“We will reimagine, reconcile and repair the harms of the past. We are stronger than we know,” said Jenkins in a reading of her original poem, according to The Lily. “We will heal. We will heal. We will heal.”
Minneapolis has been rebuilding since the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in May of 2020. Jenkins, who represents the district where Floyd lived, described the murder as a “symbol for a knee on the neck of Black America” on PBS NewsHour. Jenkins hopes to heal her community with a slew of rebuilding efforts throughout her time in office. The 60-year-old is working on a rent control and stabilization policy to assist marginalized community members, as well as tackling questions of public safety.
Rebuilding physical infrastructure will also play a role in Jenkins’ work.
The area where Floyd was killed, now called George Floyd Square, has seen many BIPOC-owned businesses close their doors in the time since the summer of 2020. In addition, Minneapolis accrued hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over the course of the uprising following Floyd’s death, Jenkins told The Lily.
As an LGBTQ+ elected official, Jenkins is in good company. There are well over 1,000 queer elected officials in office, according to LGBTQ Victory Fund. In 2021, 12 transgender women won elections.
Within the first week of 2022, lawmakers across seven states proposed anti-trans legislation. Similar to last year, most of the legislation is targeted at trans kids—banning them from playing sports and receiving gender-affirming medical care.