A transgender candidate made history Tuesday by easily winning the Democratic primary for governor of Vermont.
With the victory, Christine Hallquist, a former utility executive, became the first transgender individual to be a major party candidate for governor in U.S. history, the Burlington Free Press reported.
Hallquist, 62, received about 40 percent of the votes in the four-person Democratic primary race, more than double the total of any other candidate.
The political novice will now face the Republican winner, incumbent Gov. Phil Scott, in the general election.
“Tonight we made history, and I’m so honored to be part of this historical moment,” Hallquist told a crowd of cheering supporters on election night at the Skinny Pancake restaurant in Burlington, according to the Free Press.
Hallquist was “born male in 1956 and raised as a boy named Dave in upstate New York,” according to a Politico profile.
As a young man, he studied engineering and moved to Burlington, working as a consultant there before getting hired at the Vermont Electric Coop in 1998. Hallquist worked his way up to CEO of the utility in 2005.
He was still in that position in 2015 when he decided to start living as a woman in public. Hallquist, who said he felt like a girl since childhood, changed his name from David to Christine and began wearing a wig and women’s clothing. He also started taking hormone replacement therapy, after which he said he “felt angry less often and began crying more,” according to Politico.
Hallquist was “depressed” when Donald Trump was elected president a year later, but it also motivated him to enter the political arena.
“Nov. 8, 2016, I realized the world changed,” he told The Guardian. “I went to bed, and of course like any other trauma I was in political depression and I just didn’t know what to do. I mean, many of us in this country shed a lot of tears for what happened on Nov. 8.”
Despite having no political experience, Hallquist decided to throw his hat into the ring in the gubernatorial race.
“Thousands of people have fought for freedom before me and died for freedom,” he told Politico. “The least I could do is give up my retirement.”
Hallquist didn’t know what to expect in the Democratic primary, but former Gov. Howard Dean predicted the transgender issue would be “irrelevant in Vermont.”
Tuesday’s election results proved him right.
Still, while Vermont might be the most liberal state in the union, Hallquist isn’t a shoo-in to beat Scott in the general election. The incumbent, who angered many Republicans when he supported gun control legislation, is much more popular with Democrats than with members of his own party. But Hallquist is optimistic.
“I’m going to tell you why we’re going to win in November,” he told his supporters. “Because nothing is impossible when you’re on the side of justice.”
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