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Amelia Marquez may become Montana’s first transgender state legislator

Amelia Marquez may become Montana’s first transgender state legislator

Amelia Marquez

Amelia Marquez, 24, may become the first transgender person elected into Montana’s House of Representatives.

She’s running as a Democratic candidate in district 52, which covers the south-side of Billings. It’s about three and a half hours drive from Montana’s capital Helena.

‘[The district] is more of a lower class, poverty area,’ Marquez told Gay Star News. ‘People also think we’re the most conservative of all the big towns and that there’s a lot of discrimination that happens here.

‘I just want to show everyone that we can make change happen and it’s just a matter of stepping up right now,’ she said.

District 52, Montana House of Representatives
District 52, Montana House of Representatives. | Google Maps

Amelia Marquez said the district is actually classified as a ‘food desert status area’.

This means residents have to go ‘quite a few miles just to get to a grocery store and pick up a gallon of milk,’ she said.

Marquez decided to run for the 2018 midterms after the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

She said: ‘I just decided that we needed change in our state and local elections.’

She’s running her campaign on wanting to improve the infrastructure so it’s easier to get around town for lower income families. She hopes this’ll open up more opportunities for people in the area and create jobs.

Marquez is also running her campaign with key issues like climate change, education, domestic abuse, MedicAid and raising the minimum wage.

Political opponent uses transphobia

Amelia Marquez came out as transgender when she was 19.

‘By that point, most everybody already had inclinations to it all,’ she said. ‘I would say that mostly everybody responded most lovingly.

‘It was a thing where once I switched my name over, that was the official mark of it and everybody was on board,’ she said.

But one person who isn’t on board is her political opponent and Republican candidate Rodney Garcia.

Amelia Marquez
Amelia Marquez. | Photo: Rylan Boggs / supplied

In an interview with the Missoulian Independent, Garcia repeatedly referred to Marquez by her birth name.

When the reporters reminded him of her legal name, he said he deadnamed her out of ‘respect and courtesy’.

He then added: ‘I just got a door hanger on my door and it says [Amelia] too, but I go by her given name.’

In response, Marquez told Gay Star News: ‘In that moment and probably the first 24 hours afterwards, I was flustered and angry.’

But shortly after that, I started to realize that’s what he wants. That’s the reaction he wants.

‘He wants me to stop focusing on the issues and wants to bring this back to myself. I’m not going to let him do that – he doesn’t get that power over me,’ she said.

Amelia Marquez
Amelia Marquez. | Photo: Lynn Debree Al / supplied

Although her trans identity is a part of who she is, she doesn’t want to play identity politics or be known exclusively as a transgender candidate.

It’s not about me,’ she repeated. ‘This race has never been about me. It’s been about people in the district.

‘So I was born and raised right here in this district in this city and it’s my way of giving back to my community. At the end of the day, I would never want it to be about me.’

She then added: ‘It’s about my constituents and giving proper representation to them.’

Amelia Marquez: ‘Montanans don’t like discrimination in any way, shape or form’

All 100 seats in the Montana House of Representatives are up for election. It’s a hotly contested Congress, where Republicans currently hold the balance of power – 59 to 41.

President Donald Trump has been no stranger to Montana during these midterm elections.

In fact, Marquez said it’s one of Trump’s ‘favorite places to visit’ to try to rally against Democrat senator Jon Tester.

A recent leaked Trump administration memo surfaced last week that would legally erase transgender people.

Marquez believes the people of Montana won’t settle for it.

She said: ‘One thing that Trump really needs to take away is that Montanans don’t like discrimination in any way, shape or form.

‘This past primary election cycle [in 2016], we had a ballot measure brought up by the Montana Family Association that would’ve given the right for Montanans to discriminate against other Montanans in the form of almost like a bathroom bill.

‘It would’ve regulated whether trans individuals could use the restroom facilities. But it didn’t pass.

‘In fact, it was defeated by so much.

‘So to that, if I could ever talk to our esteemed president, I would say that if he loves Montana so much, he will see how we voted on that and that implies that we don’t want any form of discrimination in Montana or the United States at this time,’ Marquez said.

Amelia Marquez reading a book to kids
Amelia Marquez. | Photo: Rylan Boggs / supplied

She’s ‘cautiously optimistic’ about a win on Tuesday (6 November).

Marquez said: ‘If we win, we’ll focus on the issues. If I don’t win, I’ll go and talk to my neighbors right now and at the end of the day, I’m still your neighbor.

‘Win or lose, I will be out there fighting for you,’ she said.

See also:

Trump nominates gay conservative Patrick Bumatay to US Court of Appeals

Montana kills transphobic bathroom bill

Meet the gay man who wants to become Guam’s first out political executive