Transgender Candidate Takes on Gay Incumbent

The Maryland state senate primary is very progressive.

June 24, 2014, 2:14 PM
PHOTO: Senate Candidates
Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, left, an openly gay member of the state Senate, speaks during a debate on a gay marriage bill in Annapolis, Md., Feb. 23, 2012. Dana Beyer, retired opthalmic surgeon who has recently undergone transitional operations to transform her from Wayne Beyer, sits in her living room.
AP Photo|Getty Images

June 24, 2014— -- An historic primary race is taking place in Montgomery County, Maryland, today, where a transgender woman and a gay man are competing today for a seat in the state senate.

Openly gay state Sen. Richard Madaleno is trying to fend off a challenge by openly transgender and gay candidate Dana Beyer.

Madaleno was the first gay elected official to serve in the state's senate, and Beyer - if she were to win - would be Maryland's first transgender state senator.

There is no Republican running in this year's race to represent the district, so the winner of today's primary will likely go directly to the senate.

Beyer is the executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, a transgender advocacy group, and writes an LGBT column for the Huffington Post, while Madaleno helped spearhead legislation to expand protections for transgender citizens this year and has earned the endorsement of Equality Maryland, an LGBT advocacy group.

Carrie Evans, director of Equality Maryland, told the Baltimore Sun earlier this year that she expected the two gay candidates to split the LGBT vote.

Beyer told ABC News today that she is the first openly trans candidate to run for senate and if she wins will become the first openly trans legislator in history.

Still, she said, voters didn't seem to care about the sexuality or gender of the candidates.

"It’s interesting. On one level it’s inconsequential - the identity politics - to the voters here," Beyer said today. "I’m running to bring a measure of economic justice and a voice for science, medicine, and the environment, to a senate that has no doctors. We need people in the legislature who are skilled, there’s not enough professional diversity."

"But I also happen to be trans, and I can’t escape that," she said. "It's historic and important but nobody here cares about it... It's a truly democratic county, and a rather liberal one."

Landis did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

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