On Tuesday, November 7th, Stephe Koontz was elected to represent District 3 on the Doraville City Council, becoming the only openly transgender elected official in Georgia. She ran for office, partly, because she wanted transgender youth to have a role model. Now, she’s signing on to Bennett’s Project to further amplify her support for transgender youth.
Read her letter below:
When I first considered running for office, I hit a wall of doubt.
A lot of people, even my friends, thought I would be unelectable because I am transgender. I also had my own doubts, which is why it took me 10 years to gather the courage to run.
This year I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. So I ran for city council in my hometown of Doraville—and I won, becoming the only openly transgender elected official in Georgia.
I ran because I thought I could best represent the values we care about in my community. But I also wanted transgender youth to have a role model—to know that there is a future for them, and not one where they have to hide who they are.
Now, I’m reaching out about something you can do to make sure transgender youth feel accepted in your community: Join Bennett’s Project and write a short open note of support for transgender youth.
This week, communities across the country recognized Transgender Awareness Week, a time for calling attention to the challenges transgender people face, including discrimination. So it’s an opportune time to reach out to transgender youth through Bennett’s Project.
But we have to continue this advocacy always. The fact is, a national backlash against the ideas that we value in my community—like diversity and inclusivity—is brewing, and it’s coming for transgender people, especially transgender youth. There have even been attempts, in some communities in Georgia, to roll back school policies that protect them from discrimination.
For so long, I thought I could never be elected to public office as my authentic self. But now, my friends and neighbors have placed their trust in me, because of who I am—not in spite of it.
Transgender youth across Georgia need to hear this message of acceptance loud and clear.