New Report Reveals Challenges for LGBTQ Women Running for Political Office

Wednesday April 7, 2021

Politician Georgette Gómez on the campaign trail in 2020.
Politician Georgette Gómez on the campaign trail in 2020.  (Source:Georgette Gómez)

A new report released by The Victory Institute reveals the challenges and potential violence facing LGBTQ women on the campaign trail.

Three out of five LGBTQ women considering a run for office fear anti-LGBTQ violence on the campaign trail, as do three out of four trans women, according to the new report, titled, "The Decision to Run." The fear of violence is one of six major barriers to running for office uncovered in the report, a first-of-its-kind look at the unique experiences of LGBTQ women in politics. The report also found four major motivating factors for LGBTQ women who want to run.

In 2020, just 39 percent of LGBTQ candidates were women, and only 10 percent were women of color. Of the nearly 1,000 currently-serving LGBTQ elected officials, 40 percent are women, and only nine percent are women of color.

Other barriers facing queer women on the campaign trail include fears about fundraising and lack of personal savings, threats and violence based on anti-LGBTQ bigotry, sexism and/or racism and external perceptions of qualifications.

Despite these hurdles, respondents still indicated a desire to increase representation in elected offices and work on issues personal to them to make systemic change.

"LGBTQ women face the same obstacles as other women who want to run, but their sexual orientations and gender identities present additional challenges that often prevent them from taking the leap," said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute. "The barriers for LGBTQ women — and LGBTQ women of color and trans women in particular — are enormous, yet we know that when they run, they win. By understanding the barriers better and working to reduce their impact, we can encourage more LGBTQ women to run and increase our numbers in elected office."

In response to the findings, LGBTQ Victory Institute is launching the Women Out to Win Mentorship Program, which matches LGBTQ women who plan to run for office with two LGBTQ women who hold or have held elected office. It will also provide regular programming to address the barriers LGBTQ women face on the campaign trail. Victory Institute will also adapt its campaign training curriculum, with more sessions about safety on the campaign trail, responding to anti-LGBTQ campaign attacks, and fundraising.

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