Transgender state lawmaker honored as one of USA Today’s ‘Women of the Year’

Minnesota Diverse Legislature Policies
Leigh Finke, the first transgender person ever elected to Minnesota’s state Legislature, poses for a portrait at her home in St. Paul, Minn., on Nov. 18, 2022. Finke is set to join the state’s most diverse Legislature yet in January. (AP Photo/Trisha Ahmed) Trisha Ahmed/AP

Transgender state lawmaker honored as one of USA Today’s ‘Women of the Year’

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A transgender lawmaker from Minnesota has been honored as one of USA Today’s “Women of the Year.”

State Rep. Leigh Finke (D), a biological male who identifies as female, was listed as Minnesota’s honoree, along with former first lady Michelle Obama, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and astronaut Nicole Mann.

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“These honorees are women who lift up people in their communities and across the country, making a difference in the lives of many,” according to USA Today.

“They show up and speak out for those who may not have a voice, advocating for issues from health to equality and justice to the environment and more.”

Finke is the first transgender lawmaker in Minnesota’s House of Representatives and an avid defender of LGBT rights and Black Lives Matter.

Finke was elected with 81% of the vote in her district, according to Finke’s “Women of the Year” profile.

“After transitioning in 2017 Finke said politics began hitting ‘a lot closer to home.’ Witnessing national and coordinated attacks against the rights of transgender people and others in her community motivated her to be the representation Minnesota was lacking,” the profile read.

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Being named as the Minnesota honoree provides an image of a “trans elder” for transgender children, Finke said.

“When I started my transition, I had a hard time imagining what trans elders looked like,” according to Finke. “We don’t really have a cultural space where what it means to be 75 and a trans woman is available. That’s true also for parents of trans children. And I’m happy to provide that. I’m happy and joyful and well-loved and excited. You know, we’re not a community of sad people who are just depressed.”

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