Texas currently holds a record of at least 53 openly LGBTQ people running for public office in 2018. Eight candidates in Texas are transgender, but one of the candidates would achieve notability as Austin’s first trans council member in District 9 if she wins the race against Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo.
Danielle Skidmore plans to win the spot in the District 9 on the Austin City Council in November. If successful in the race again Tovo, Skidmore will be Austin’s first out transgender woman to serve on city council. The LGBTQ activist will also hold the record being the second trans elected official in the state.
Working endlessly to push back anti-trans bathroom bills in Texas, Skidmore has resided in Austin, Texas for over 20 years. She said she wants to change the state by listening to people’s voice. “As a transportation engineer, I think I can bring a voice that is different than we’ve had,” she proclaimed in her campaign. “But as a trans woman and a special needs parent, my lived experience has really taught me that it’s so important to intentionally listen to all of the voices on an issue. That really has been central in our campaign.”
Skidmore is the mother of Peter, a 17-year-old with special needs. Advocates for Skidmore said she is running on a campaign platform of accessibility, mobility, sustainability, and equity. According to Skidmore, residents of Austin are “really excited” about a transgender person governing in the city council. As much as she anticipated, Skidmore reports to received little anti-trans backlash as a result of her candidacy – at least not locally.
Skidmore unknowingly spoke to conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder one time on the streets of Austin. The conversation was initiated under Crowder’s ‘Change My Mind’ series, part of his belief of “there are only two genders.” Though the conversation brought her 64,000 “really ugly hate” comments, Skidmore received over one hundred emails of positive support from Crowder’s viewers, who also written letters, to thank her for changing their mindsets.
“It’s taught me that visibility is important,” the transportation engineer said, noting that it fit with her own conception of her responsibilities as a role model. “And I’m lucky that I get to be visible and out and proud with what I see as relatively little consequences.”
As a member of the City of Austin’s LGBTQ Quality of Life Commission, Skidmore argued she already fights for people to live their life authentically. Skidmore has said she believes people should not only live life to the fullest but also support one another through being visible and using social media as a tool to extend help.
“The first thing I would say is that you are not alone,” Skidmore noted in an interview. “We are all a part of an amazing, powerful, loving community. It is a community as diverse and as beautiful as we all are as human beings. There is no right way to be transgender. There is no test” Skidmore stated in a Spectrum South profile.
“Regardless of what we look like, how we dress, how we sound, whether we are ‘out’ or not, stealthy or visible, ‘full-time’ or not, early or late transitions, binary, non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid, on and on. We are all transgender. We are all human.”