Two local politicians from Alaska’s Interior region have become the state’s first trans women elected into office.
Alaska’s municipal elections, which took place earlier this month, saw Kathy Ottersten elected to city council in Fairbanks for a one-year term. Liz Lyke was elected to serve as an assembly member for Fairbanks North Star Borough—a region that encompasses the city of Fairbanks—for a three-year term. Ottersten’s constituency includes some 32,000 residents, and Lyke’s encompasses nearly 100,000.
Now, both women have officially been sworn into office.
In an interview with local news outlet KTUU-TV, Ottersten and Lyke said they both felt similar pressures to mention or focus on their transness on the campaign trail. Ultimately, their approach, “[seeing] people in their whole entirety,” seemed to resonate with Alaskans across party lines.
Ottersten added that she hopes her gender identity becomes as inconsequential to her platform and her personal life as her blood type. Still, she notes that Alaskans have a ways to go in terms of trans inclusion and acceptance.
“What I would like is basic indifference,” she said. “I’m AB blood type, I would like it to be about important as that, but the problem still remains. Every doctor I might see will know [not to] transfuse me with something wrong, if you have AB blood if I need a transfusion, but they know nothing for the most part about people who are transgender.”