Nashville elects openly trans politician in historic first: ‘We are valid’

Olivia Hill

Olivia Hill has made history as the first openly trans person to be elected to political office in Nashville, Tennessee. 

On Thursday (14 September), Hill made history, winning 12.9 per cent of the vote and being elected to the Metro Council. She is the first out trans candidate to have been elected anywhere in Tennessee, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. 

The 57-year-old, who is an award-winning public speaker and advocate for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, told The Tennessean after her historic win that she was “elated”. 

She said: “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.”

Hill’s priorities for the upcoming term are to “get to work and to fix the broken parts of Nashville” including improving infrastructure, utilities and public transportation.

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According to a July 2023 interview with the Nashville Post, Hill was making history prior to her win as she was the first openly trans woman to have her name on the Tennessee ballot. 

Her campaign website says she as born and raised in Nashville and is a US Navy veteran, following serving in the engineering division for 10 years. 

After serving in the military, Hill worked for 26 years at the Vanderbilt University Power Plant, retiring in December 2021. But things didn’t end well, as Hill sued the university in September 2021 after allegedly facing workplace discrimination around her gender transition. An out-of-court settlement was reached three months later, as reported by The Tennessean. 

Women now make up the majority of Nashville’s Metro Council. 

Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, which endorsed Hill, praised her win. 

“Nashville voters clearly reject the hateful rhetoric that has grown louder in Tennessee politics lately,” Parker said.

“Olivia’s victory proves that transgender people belong everywhere decisions about them are being made, including local office. 

“I know Olivia is well-prepared to take her seat on the Metro Council and work to make Nashville and Davidson County a more welcoming place for all.”