Jackie Ryan has served on the Tantasqua School Committee for nearly two years. She is the youngest elected official in her district – and when she was elected in 2014, she was the first-ever openly transgender elected official in the entire state of Massachusetts. Jackie ran for the position when she graduated from high school. Sturbridge, where Jackie lives, is a small, conservative community. And yet, when the votes were counted on election night, Jackie came out with 63 more votes (out of a total 819 votes) than her opponent – a Republican incumbent who had served for five years. Now, Jackie is leveraging her political role to advance protections for LGBTQ people.
“Transgender people want to be able to have our own dreams and live our own lives without the fear of being discriminated against – something as simple as going to a movie and knowing you won’t be denied entrance just because of who you are,” Jackie said. “Ultimately, we just want to be able to feel safe while being who we are. This is what we want. And this is what these laws do.”