Nashville elects Tennessee’s first openly transgender politician

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A transgender woman won election to a seat on Nashville’s city council, becoming the first openly transgender person to be voted into political office in Tennessee.

Olivia Hill, 57, secured one of the four open at-large seats on the metro council of Nashville, a politically liberal city in an overwhelmingly conservative state.

Her triumph made her the first transgender woman to be elected in Tennessee, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, an advocacy group aiming to get LGBTQ+ people into public office.

Hill was elected Thursday, winning 12.9% of the vote, NBC News reported.

She was born and raised in Nashville, according to her campaign website, and is a military veteran, having served in the US navy’s engineer division for 10 years. Overall, she has been an engineer for 36 years.

Hill previously worked at the Vanderbilt University power plant, retiring in December 2021, the Tennessean reported. She sued the university in September 2021 after experiencing intense workplace discrimination; the two parties reached an out-of-court settlement.

Hill is a public speaker and advocate for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, and she has served on the board of directors for the Tennessee Pride Chamber.

“My expertise is fixing things, and while my focus is repairing Nashville’s outdated infrastructure, I also want to ensure that our city is represented with true diversity in a state where the ruling party thinks I should head to the closet,” Hill said in a media release on Thursday following her win, according to the Associated Press.

Women now make up the majority of Nashville’s metro council, the AP reported.

Annise Parker, the president and CEO of the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, applauded Hill’s victory. Parker noted that Hill’s historic election comes as Tennessee’s state legislature passes laws discriminating against transgender communities.

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