Gay Issues

Paula Overby Becomes First Transgendered Woman From Minnesota to Run For Congress

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Democratic congressional candidate Paula Overby, 59, is the first transgendered woman from Minnesota to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Overby filed all the require paperwork to run this month, according to Roll Call. She is challenging former state Rep. Miker Obermueller (D), who narrowly lost to Rep. John Kline (R).

In 2012, Kline entered into his sixth term by eight percentage points in a district split between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, according to Raw Story.

Overby is also running against Thomas Craft, who says he’s happy to see her enter the race.

"Paula's candidacy is a great example of our party's openness and inclusion," Craft said. "I look forward to the knowledge and experience she will bring to the discussion."

Overby has said she doesn’t want gender identity to define her campaign, Pioneer Press reported earlier this month. She wants to focus on reforming a broken campgaign finance system.

"The deadlock you see in Congress today isn't government -- it's rule by the rich," she told Pioneer Press.

While she said her gender identity could be a polarizing issue for voters, she also thinks it could help her reach out to residents who don’t usually show up at the polls.

"There is a significant level of prejudice that exists against transgendered people," Overby said. "Some people will see this as a mark of enormous courage. There are other people who won't vote for me because of it."

With little experience in politics, Overby has never run for office or held an appointed position.

"In some respects, I think that makes me uniquely qualified,” she said.

A spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund told Pioneer Press more LGBT candidates are running for office because they see other LGBT candidates winning.

"There is a general feeling that the American public is changing its mind on the issues of LGBT equality," Dison said. "We are getting to a point now where it is unacceptable in politics to openly oppose someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

Sources: Raw Story, Pioneer Press