Tennessee Voters Elect State's First Openly Trans Person in Nashville City Council Race

Olivia Hill's election comes at a time when the Tennessee legislature has proposed or passed a number of measures targeting the LGBTQ+ community

<p>Jason Kempin/Getty</p> Olivia Hill

Jason Kempin/Getty

Olivia Hill

Nashville voters have elected Olivia Hill to city council, making her the first openly transgender woman elected to public office in the state's history, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund PAC.

Hill won one of four open positions on the city council last Thursday. The election was historic in other ways, too, as the other open seats were also filled by female candidates, making it a majority-female council.

Hill's election comes at a time when the Tennessee legislature has proposed or passed a number of measures aimed at the LGBTQ+ community.

In March, Tennessee became the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation restricting drag shows when Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill into law restricting "adult cabaret performances" — which it defines to include "topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers," and "male or female impersonators."

Lee signed the bill on the same day he signed a bill banning gender-affirming health care for transgender youths in the state.

In June, a Tennessee judge, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, struck down the law, declaring it to be unconstitutional and finding that it violates freedom of speech protections.

Related: Tennessee's Drag Ban Deemed Unconstitutional by Trump-Appointed Judge in Major Win for LGBTQ+ Community

LGBTQ+ advocates argued that the bill would go much further than limiting "obscene" entertainment and could impact things like Drag Queen Story Hour events at local libraries, which have been targeted across the country in recent months.

Upon the bill's passage, Gov. Lee was accused of hypocrisy, as a photo of him wearing a dress in high school was surfaced by outlets including Nashville Public Radio. While LGBTQ+ advocates have said the photo demonstrates Lee's hypocrisy, his office has instead said it was simply evidence of "lighthearted school traditions."

Tennessee's Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally was also slammed for hypocrisy after a series of positive comments he posted on an LGBTQ+ man's Instagram photos have come to light.

Related: Anti-Drag Legislation Is Sweeping the Nation: Here's Where Each State Stands on Drag Bans

According to LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign, the state has enacted 14 anti-LGBTQ+ laws since 2015. Among those are two bathroom bans and three laws preventing transgender students from playing sports consistent with their gender identity.

Speaking to The Tennessean following her victory, Hill said, “I want to say that I am elated. For every trans kid in the state of Tennessee that has felt discomfort or that they didn't belong… We are valid. We are who we say we are. And we are going to move forward."

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