An unprecedented number of transgender candidates were elected to office on Election Night 2017. Among them was Phillipe Cunningham of Minneapolis, one of two openly transgender people elected to the Minneapolis City Council that night (the other being Andrea Jenkins, a transgender woman of color) and the first-ever openly transgender man of color to win political office. Phillipe is a transgender man, meaning he was born and raised female but understood from a young age that that didn’t quite fit, and so he transitioned to live every day as the man he long knew himself to be. While Phillipe is proud of his groundbreaking achievement, he noted that it is his commitment to the city and his years of community engagement that helped propel him to victory.
“When Andrea and I ran for City Council, we were seen as complete and full people – we weren’t just seen as trans people,” he said. “We were elected because people at the local level know us as humans who are qualified and would do a good job of being a representative of the entire community. There has never been someone at the table who has had the life experience that I have, and now there is, and that’s an asset.”