Tuesday’s election of Virginia House Delegate Danica Roem has been widely celebrated, as she became the first transperson to serve in state legislature.
But according to Splinter, there was someone else who came before Roem.
Althea Garrison, a long-time minor figure in Boston politics, served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in the early 90s. But after being outed as transgender –against her will– by Boston media, she was only able to serve one term.
Since then, Garrison has run for office more than 14 times, and lost each election —including this past Tuesday.
“She has since been unable to set aside her identity as a transgender person to focus on the small-time local politics she’s spent her life chasing, much as she might have wanted to,” Splinter writes. Garrison ran for Boston City Council on Tuesday, receiving 7 percent of the vote.
The 77-year-old Harvard grad was born in Georgia before transitioning while in Boston. Her transgender identity was an open secret in Boston’s political circles until the Boston Herald ran a story saying the Garrison had “questions about her past life unanswered.”
Despite the setbacks, Garrison continues to run and is a pioneer– however tragic her story. The key difference in Roem and other transpersons’ landmark wins this election cycle is that the candidates “all campaigned as transgender advocates and were open with voters about being transgender,” The Washington Post reports.
The Post added: “Voters then elected them into their respective offices, in theory because they were the best candidates for the job.”
Garrison, as Splinter puts it, is a person “who lost a lot, with little reward, and at whose expense we got an election where being “first” is a good thing instead of a nasty secret to expose.”