Even after an election week rife with the almost ethereal reality of change (save, of course, for these soul-crushing blows in California, Florida and Arizona), the story of one small-town Oregon mayoral race glimmers with a special sort of triumph.
Silverton, Oregon, population 9588, has just elected America's first openly transgender-identified mayor.
His name is Stu Rasmussen--and yes, he uses male pronouns. He's also been known to refer to himself as a heterosexual dude, albeit one with breast implants and a wild mane of auburn hair. He's served 20 years as an elected official (including two previous terms as Silverton's mayor in 1988 and 1990), has long been a small-business owner and proponent of the Norman Rockwellian way of Silverton life, and is generally regarded by the community as a damn fine public servant. Rasmussen retreated from public life in the mid-90s, following what Just Out calls his self-described gender identity crisis, but came back to Silverton's city council in 2004 as the city's first gender-fluid elected official. And now, after a landslide victory over incumbent Ken Hector, he's back in the mayorship.
But tiny as Silverton may be, this certainly isn't a novel little region story. In an election cycle that berated candidates for not adhering to the standard political accoutrements, that sometimes felt like a school-yard competition for most patriotic, most true-blue American, most plain old normal, Rasmussen's candidacy, let alone his victory, flew in the face of another deep-rooted fear. And though his presence in Silverton isn't quite the same as putting a gender-fluid candidate on the national stage, it still serves as an example of a people not so afraid after all. I, for one, couldn't be more excited.
Read more about Stu Rasmussen's story in Just Out --they've done some incredible reporting on this.
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.
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