Transgender Drag Performer Poised to Win Seat in Vermont State Legislature

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 14, 2020

This week, Taylor Small won her primary for a House seat in Vermont and looks on track to become the first out trans person ever elected to the state legislature.

Small currently faces no general election opponent. In addition to Small's victory in Vermont, this year's primaries have been promising for other non-incumbent trans-state legislative candidates, such as Stephanie Byers in Kansas, Madeline Eden in Texas and Jessica Katzenmeyer in Wisconsin. Sarah McBride of Delaware could become the first out trans state senator in U.S. history if she wins.

Small currently serves as the Director of the Health & Wellness program at Pride Center of Vermont. She's also a drag queen.

"My activism has taken many shapes and forms over the years, but the most notable is my drag persona, Nikki Champagne," states Small on her campaign website. "Alongside my business partner, Emoji Nightmare, I have had the opportunity to provide Drag Queen Story Hours across the state promoting local libraries and youth literacy, host fundraisers to help support Vermont's non-profit organizations, and create safer spaces for LGBTQ+ community members to come together. I believe that through visibility, education, and love, we can create a more compassionate state."

In a statement about Small's victory, Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said:

"Taylor shattered a lavender ceiling in Vermont, but her victory is more than just a milestone in our movement for equality. It is part of a transformative moment in U.S. political history, with trans candidates breaking new ground in red states and blue states and at an unprecedented pace. In 2020 alone, we can double the number of trans-state legislators in the country to eight, a remarkable opportunity given the first out trans state legislator was elected less than three years ago. While trans people remain severely underrepresented in elected office, Taylor and others are building the political power we need to defeat anti-trans legislation and change hearts and minds."

According to Out for America, only four out trans people have been elected to serve in state legislatures, all of whom remain in their seats. When she was elected in 2017, Virginia Delegate Danica Roem became the first out trans person to serve in the state legislature. There are just 28 out trans people currently serving in U.S. government at any level.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.