Sep 15, 2023 - News

Olivia Hill is first transgender candidate elected in Tennessee

Olivia Hill attends the Nashville Pride 2023 parade on June 24 in Nashville. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Olivia Hill became the first transgender person elected to public office in Tennessee on Thursday, winning one of four open Nashville Metro Council at-large seats.

Why it matters: It was a historic night for women candidates. For the first time, all five at-large council members representing all of Davidson County will be women.

  • Delishia Porterfield, Burkley Allen and Quin Evans-Segall round out the victors for the at-large seats.
  • Metro Councilmember Zulfat Suara won the first council seat last month and avoided the runoff.

State of play: Hill's historic candidacy comes at a time when the conservative state legislature has intensely scrutinized transgender people.

  • Earlier this year, the legislature and Gov. Bill Lee banned gender-affirming care for transgender minors. The legislature also passed a law to regulate drag show performances.

What she's saying: "It feels like every horrible thing that people have said about trans folks has just washed away," Hill tells Axios.

  • "This is a great step in the right direction to hopefully educate some people about how valid trans folks are and that we're here and that we're not going away."

By the numbers: Women won 22 of the 40 council seats in addition to Angie Henderson winning the vice mayor's race last month.

  • The previous record for women on the council was 20.
Councilmember Delishia Porterfield. Photo: courtesy of the Porterfield campaign.
Councilmember Delishia Porterfield. Photo: Courtesy of the Porterfield campaign

Zoom in: Porterfield staged a bold campaign. Despite the fact she was not term-limited for her district council seat, she chose to enter the highly competitive at-large race. A darling of the city's progressive activist community, Porterfield's bet on herself paid off.

  • Porterfield and Suara also made history as a duo. It's the first time two Black women were the top vote-getters in an at-large race.
  • The council became more progressive as a whole, with candidates backed by the city's top activist groups winning their races.

In the only state legislative race on the ballot, Democrat Aftyn Behn drubbed her two opponents to win the special election to complete the term of Rep. Bill Beck, who died earlier this year.

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