America’s First Transgendered Mayor Gets Re-elected
In the small town of Silverton, Oregon, Stu Rassmussen will continue to reign as America’s first and only transgendered Mayor. The matter-of-fact way in which Rassmussen has addressed his transgendered nature is inspiring.
Silverton, population 9,222, is nestled in the the quiet rural northwest corner of Marion County, Oregon. It looks like many other rural towns in the Pacific northwest. The town was established around an old Oak tree and named after a a local creek that ran through the small burg.
Main Street Silverton, via wikimedia
Rassumssen started his political career long before coming out as transgendered. The software and radio engineer was elected to city council while still in the closet. In a 2004 article from Just Out, Rasumussen spoke about his life long love of cross-dressing.
He was ashamed at first, and thought he was the only one dealing with this issue. In the mid 90′s, an internet search opened his eyes to the community of cross-dressers, and he started to become more comfortable in his own skin. He communicated with the Northwest Gender Alliance and soon, getting his fingernails painted transitioned into full cross-dressing in public. He admits it was scary at first, but the small town made little fuss about his new outward appearance. “90 percent of the problems [he faced] were right between my own ears.”
Rasmussen admits he heard snickers at first, and the occasional stare as some would expect, but his cross-dressing seemed to have no impact on his political or business life. After being elected Mayor for the first time in 1988, he bounced between civil service duties – in 92 he was elected city councilor, in 96 to the town’s Library Board. Finally, Rasmussen returned to the mayoral seat in 2008, where he has been reelected ever since.
Rasmussen gathering signatures via ABC News
Rasmussen continues to be a political and business leader in his community – he owns several small businesses, including an old movie theater which shows new Hollywood movies to the small town. He lives with his partner Victoria Sage – together for over 30 years.
Rassmussen’s campaign website addresses the national attention he received as America’s first transgendered mayor- there is a “reality check” tab that highlights the surprise he felt. This section seems to give the greatest insight into the non-issue that is his transgendered existence in public office.
“I just happen to be transgendered – something I didn’t even know the word for until I discovered it on the Internet. I’ve been a cross-dresser or transvestite my whole life, only ‘coming out’ recently and thereby discovering that life goes on very nicely.”
On November 6th, 2012, Rassmuseen won his 5th term as Silverton’s mayor. In a comment to the Statesmen-Journal, he said, “I’m pleased at the confidence and trust the people of Silverton have shown in me.”
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