This week was a big one for transgender history and women named Misty.
On Tuesday, Democratic primary voters in Utah and Colorado picked two transgender women to challenge Republican incumbents in Congress this November. As reported by Politico, Misty Snow, a 30-year-old Salt Lake City grocery store clerk who crushed her primary opponent by almost 20 percentage points in Tuesday night’s primary, is set for a general-election showdown with Tea Party darling Sen. Mike Lee. And in Colorado, Misty Plowright, a 33-year-old who works in IT and lives in Colorado Springs with her wife, will campaign to replace five-term Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn in the House of Representatives.
Snow and Plowright are the nation’s first openly transgender major-party candidates for national office.
“My initial reaction was that it’s historic and awesome,” said Laura “Pinky” Reinsch, the political director for One Colorado, an advocacy organization that supports state- and local-level LGBTQ candidates in Colorado. “The fact that transgender people telling their stories and being out and open about who they are is making it so folks can run for office and can win primaries—that’s historic too, in terms of the way the transgender equality movement has progressed.”
Besides taking top billing in their respective primaries, both candidates also won endorsements from Bernie Sanders, who handily defeated Hillary Clinton in both the Utah caucus and Colorado primary and whose message to voters echoes in their own. Snow “has called for a $15 per hour minimum wage, paid family leave, legalized marijuana, criminal-justice reform and free or reduced tuition for higher education,” writes the Salt Lake Tribune. And here’s Plowright channeling Sanders’ rhetoric in an election-night tweet on Tuesday:
Political neophytes plucked from relative obscurity, Snow and Plowright face uphill battles in the coming months. Despite a Gallup survey from March 2015 that calculated Salt Lake City’s LGBTQ population as the seventh-highest in the nation, Lee leads Snow 51 percent to 37 percent among likely general election voters according to a poll commissioned by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics in early June. And Lamborn, who has represented Colorado’s heavily conservative fifth district since 2007, took nearly 60 percent of the vote in his most recent reelection fight.
Still, in a nation in which LGBTQ individuals—particularly transgender women of color—are the minority group victimized by the majority of hate crimes, Snow and Plowright’s emergence onto the national political stage marks a milestone. As Snow told the Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday, “A lot of people have told me whether I win or lose, I’m already making a difference just by running.”