LGBTQ representation in politics

Nearly 70% of LGBTQ Women Running for Office in Last 4 Years Won Their Elections

As diversity and inclusion continues to expand within city, state and federal government, a new report from the LGBTQ Victory Institute, an organization that supports LGBTQ elected officials and political hopefuls, has revealed that queer female candidates perform surprisingly well in general elections — an encouraging and positive sign for ongoing inclusion efforts across the country.

Julie Moreau of NBC News reported that “a review of the win and loss records of all 1,088 candidates endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund (the political action committee associated with the Victory Institute) from 2016 to 2020 found that queer cisgender women — including lesbian, bisexual and other non-heterosexual women — won 69% of the time, compared to 59% for queer cisgender men endorsed by the political action committee.”

However, despite this impressive winning rate, the study said queer cisgender female candidates remain underrepresented in elections, even when looking at LGBTQ candidates as a whole, where cisgender men account for 59% of the candidates endorsed and supported by the Victory Institute. (The group also pointed out that its data only tracked the success or failure of elections involving its endorsed candidates but added that this pool consists of a fair and accurate representation of LGBTQ candidates as a whole across the country.)

In an interview with NBC News, Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Victory Institute and the former mayor of Houston, said, “LGBTQ women face unique barriers to running for office — the same sexist campaign tactics and misperceptions of their own qualifications as other women, combined with anti-LGBTQ bias — yet overcoming those obstacles makes them strong contenders by the time they run. LGBTQ women candidates tend to wait to run for positions they are qualified — and often overqualified — to hold, and perhaps don’t trigger the same negative stereotypes directed at LGBTQ men.”

“Their experiences as women and as LGBTQ people often make them better politicians, portraying an authenticity and sensibility that resonates with voters. LGBTQ women make fantastic candidates, and when we run, we win,” Parker added. “But we will not achieve representation equitable to LGBTQ men until we start running in much higher numbers.”

According to the Victory Institute study, transgender female candidates tend to perform better at the polls than transgender men, winning 54% of the time vs. trans men’s 18% success rate.

“Nonbinary and gender-nonconforming candidates performed even better, winning 64% of the time,” Moreau reported while noting that the number of transgender and nonbinary candidates running in elections tracked by the Victory Institute remains small overall. Out of 1,000 candidates, 39 were transgender women, and only 11 were transgender men. An additional 11 candidates in the study identified as either nonbinary or gender-nonconforming.

Despite their impressive winning record at the polls and increasing representation in politics overall, the Victory Institute noted that the total number of LGBTQ representatives still remains incredibly low. 

“Queer cisgender women are only 37% of LGBTQ elected officials, and transgender women are only 4%. Only 2% of LGBTQ elected officials are nonbinary or gender-nonconforming, and approximately 0.5% are transgender men,” Moreau reported. “Even queer cisgender men, who make up 56% of LGBTQ elected officials, are severely underrepresented when compared to all elected officials.”

According to the Victory Institute, queer candidates only comprise approximately 0.19% of all elected officials nationwide. 

Moreau reported that “to achieve proportionate representation of the United States’ estimated 18 million LGBTQ adults (roughly 5.6% of the adult population, according to the most recent Gallup poll), Americans would need to elect 28,128 more LGBTQ people to office — a significant jump from the current total of 974.” 


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


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