Vermont has made history by electing Christine Hallquist, a transgender woman, to be the Democratic nominee for governor. This is the first time in the United States that an openly transgender person has been a major party nominee for governor. Hallquist is used to making waves, though, as she also lays claim to the title of being the first CEO in the country to transition while in office.
“It’s always been important to me to live openly and honestly,” she said when announcing her candidacy earlier this year. “I chose to transition in a very public way because I felt I owed it to those at Vermont Electric Cooperative who put their trust in me.”
While Democrat Danica Roem made history with her election to the Virginia House of Delegates, becoming its first transgender member, Hallquist’s nomination by the Democratic Party for this key leadership role is an important step for trans inclusion in the political process. She will face popular incumbent Republican Governor Phil Scott in November.
Here are six things to know about Hallquist:
- An engineering expert, she started working for Vermont Electric Coop in 1998 and became its CEO in 2005. She helped the energy company grow onto a financially stable national leader on renewable energy and a proponent of combatting climate change.
- A Vermont resident since 1976, she has been active in local politics for years. She served as Hyde Park Town Meeting Day moderator for the past five years, spent 12 years on the Lamoille Economic Development Corporation Board, chaired the Sterling Area Services Mental Health Board, and served on the Hyde Park School Board. She is a member of United Community Church in Morrisville.
- A parent, she has three children and two grandchildren.
- Her son directed a documentary about her, Denial, which encouraged her to transition. She told CNN in June, it was the public response to her transition that gave her the confidence to run for office.
- She is backed by the Justice Democrats, the same group that helped launch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign in New York
- Hallquist is one of more than 400 LGBTQ candidates running in this election cycle, a record according to political training group the Victory Institute.