Nashville voters elect openly transgender woman Olivia Hill to city council for the first time in Tennessee’s history
- Democrat Olivia Hill, 57, was elected to Metro Council in Nashville
- Voted in despite Tennessee implementing some of the strictest LGBTQ+ laws
- Navy veteran came out as trans at the age of 52
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A transgender woman has been elected to Nashville’s city council for the first time in the state’s history.
Navy veteran Olivia Hill, 57, is the first openly transgender person to hold any public office in Tennessee.
The ‘proud’ Democrat and three other women won four out of five available positions to produce a historic female-majority in the city’s Metro Council.
She served ten years in the US Navy with two tours in the Persian Gulf including Desert Storm.
The parent to two and grandparent to four children is a transgender activist and educator on women’s rights.
Olivia Hill has made history as the first openly trans person to hold any public office in Tennessee despite the state passing several laws aimed at the LGBTQI+ community
Hill is a Democrat and won alongside three other women to produce a historic majority on the Nashville Metro Council
Her election comes despite Tennessee implementing some of the strictest laws around LGBTQ+ issues.
In March, the state’s Republican Governor Bill Lee passed a law banning gender affirming health care for minors.
He also attempted to restrict drag performances, but the law was deemed to violate freedom of speech rights enshrined within the First Amendment and overturned.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the state has passed 19 anti-LGBTQ+ laws since 2015, including bathroom bans and laws preventing trans students from playing sport in categories which match their gender identity.
Hill won 37,000 votes in Thursday’s general runoff election after campaigning on infrastructure, improving non-vehicle transit options and improving schools.
‘I want to say that I am elated. 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,’ she told The Tennessean.
Hill came out as a transgender woman at the age of 52 and has been an activist and campaigner for the community
She also campaigned for more affordable housing and measures to combat homelessness having been unhoused once herself in her early years.
Hill began medically transitioning to become a woman in 2017 but said she knew from the age of five she was like her ‘mother and sisters’.
Her mother took her to a psychiatrist to teach her to ‘be a boy’ and she went on to join the Navy where she adopted a more masculine persona to fit in.
But at the age of 52 she ‘came out’ as a woman while working for Vanderbilt University.
She successfully sued the university in 2021 over workplace discrimination.
Hill retired from the institution after 25 years and now sits on the Board of Directors for the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
She was selected as Grand Marshall at this year’s Pride march in Nashville and is currently writing her first book.