Althea Garrison is an American politician, woman of trans history, and the first trans person to be elected to state legislature.
Garrison was born in 1940 in Georgia, attending high school there before moving to Boston to go to beauty school. She went on to enrol in a number of Universities, receiving her associated, bachelors and masters degrees, and finally a certificate in special studies in administration and management from Harvard in 1984.
She ran at least 9 unsuccessful campaigns for office before 1992, when she had her first and only success. She ran as a Republican candidate for the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and defeated the Democratic candidate, Irene Roman, 2,451 votes to 2,014.
Garrison was only able to enjoy her victory for two days, before she was outed very publicly. Her previous male name was revealed after her name change document from 1976 was discovered. The author of the smear article was Eric Fehrnstrom, the communications director for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign.
The outing had a negative affect on her career, making her the butt of many political jokes. No one in the Massachusetts State House, including Garrison, would publicly confront the smear.
Despite the obvious ignorance in regards to her trans history, she still impressed her colleagues. "She’s a transvestite or transsexual black woman, with an Adam’s Apple, who’s a Republican, who you run into in the members’ ladies’ room," recalls one former colleague. "That being said, when you get past all those obvious things, I always found her to be very pleasant and very kind."
During her time in office, she often voted on the side of the Democrats, showing herself to be consistently pro-union. Her re-election campaign in 1994 was unsuccessful, despite endorsements from several of the labour unions she had supported.
She has continued her political campaigns since, running unsuccessfully in a number of elections. She has notably come out against marriage equality, stating same sex attraction is “a matter of choice and lifestyle not to be confused or associated with class or race.” She is even allied to the anti-LGBT rights group ‘MassResistance’.
Check out more trans history on Gendered Intelligence’s ‘Trans History’ tag.
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