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Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis City Council President, smiles while seated on a bench
LGBTQ+ Stories

Minneapolis Council President Andrea Jenkins: I see you, I feel you, and I am here for you

In 2017, I was elected to the Minneapolis City Council, becoming the first Black openly trans woman to hold office in the United States. I was inspired to run for public office to create greater equity for marginalized communities in the City of Minneapolis.

This has been an enormously challenging past two-plus years. We have witnessed crime rates and violence increase dramatically throughout the country. To address this issue in Minneapolis, we promoted an anti-Asian hate campaign that has seemingly been effective in curbing hate crimes in that community. We also created the Office of Violence Prevention, which empowers community-based groups to work towards ending violence.

However, our efforts to end gun violence must go even further. One suggestion is to make every gun owner obtain a license to own a gun. We should also repeal open carry laws, and have stiffer penalties for crimes committed with guns.

Minnesota

#17 in the country for gun law strength

Key Metrics

Gun Law Strength

Composite score

37.5

0 100

Gun Violence Rate

Gun deaths per 100k residents

8.9

0 National Average 30
Summary

Minnesota has recently enacted several strong gun violence prevention laws.

Over the past 35+ years, I have worked in various roles related to human services. This included roles as a counselor in a culturally specific chemical dependency treatment center, a vocational counselor assisting women with children move from public assistance to the workplace, and a City Council policy aide. I also led a Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota.

I was only a few years into my career when I came out, and seeing the progress that the trans community has made since then gives me hope. Trans and gender non-conforming people have excelled in every field of human endeavor, from being nominated for Emmy and Grammy Awards, making it to the New York Times Best Seller list, to being confirmed to serve in the Biden administration as Assistant Secretary for Health. These things remind me that despite the backlash, this community is still making monumental strides towards full inclusion in American life.

I am most proud of two accomplishments I’ve made for the LGBTQ+ community so far as Minneapolis City Council President. We banned conversion therapy as a practice in the city, and at the beginning of the pandemic, we allocated $10,000 as small $500 grants to be distributed specifically to trans communities.

I have heard from others that my election inspired them. It is an incredible feeling to know that my actions inspire others to enter public life.

When we run, we win. I recently endorsed a local transgender-identified woman seeking to be a State Representative here in Minnesota. To people hoping to make an impact on their communities, my advice is to be yourself and talk about the issues that are most urgent in your community. 

I am constantly inspired by historical figures like Harriet Tubman and Marsha P. Johnson, whose image hangs on my wall in my office. I am also inspired by former President Barack Obama, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Maya Angelou. They all taught me the lesson of perseverance.

To all of my trans siblings and gender non-conforming family, I want to say that I know these are difficult days we’re living in right now, but today there are more protections, more organizations working on behalf of the trans community, and more opportunities for success than any time in American history. I personally am on the frontlines every day to make the world safer, more respectful and accessible for the transgender community. I see you, I feel you, and I am here for you.

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