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Tuesday December 12th 2017

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Thoughts from the Finger Lakes – Looking at November 2018

By Shauna Marie O’Toole

As I write this, today is Election Day 2017. Transgender Day of Remembrance is two weeks away. HRC has listed 25 Transgender Americans who have been murdered. I am waiting for the international list to use for the TDoR Memorial at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. I am expecting 300+ names to be on the list.

This has been a difficult year politically for us. Still, I would submit that there is reason to hope.

A Federal court has blocked the ban on Transgender people from serving in the military. The court cited the way the ban was announced, that it was not supported by the facts, and that it robbed the plaintiffs of due process, as reasons for the block. Those who are called to serve our nation can still do so.

While Attorney General Sessions has determined that Transgender people are not protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, President Trump has said that Federal LGBTQ workers will continue to be protected. It is a mix of signals, but perhaps the tide is turning.

What gives me the most hope are the number of Transgender people seeking political office.

Back in 2015, I was running for the 55th NY State Senate. I had to stop the campaign due to some health issues – issues which are now well under control. When the 2016 election came around, there was no one running against the incumbent. No one.

As I voted today in Geneva, I saw on my ballot that there was one Republican candidate for State Supreme Court and twoRepublican/Conservative candidates for District Attorney. The only position that had a Democratic candidate was for Ward 2 supervisor.

Regardless of how popular an incumbent is, no one should run unopposed or not face an alternative viewpoint.

So, I wrote my own name in. I went on social media and asked others in my area to write my name in if they couldn’t find a candidate they liked or could support. No, I don’t expect to win. However, using only one name would give a tally of opposition.

Yes, the Finger Lakes area tends to be heavily Republican. Still, why aren’t there Democrats challenging some of these seats? Even if we lose, let’s at least raise the level of public debate!

That’s why I am going to try again. I am going to seek the Democratic nomination for the 54th NY State Senate. In the 54th State Senate district, there are over 3,000 Transgender New Yorkers. Across New York State, there are over 200,000 Transgender people who need a voice on the State Senate floor.

I want to be that voice.

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