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S.D.: Transgender Council Member Reemerges

S.D.: Transgender Council Member Reemerges


A former city council member in Rapid City, S.D., is returning to the public eye as she prepares to run for a city council seat after coming out as transgender, the Associated Press reports.
After several years of keeping to herself in her Rapid City home, Marla Murphy, now 55, is ready to see if her town has changed since she made her announcement while on the city council. But she has received numerous threats over the years, and she says she still is nervous when approaching a voter's front door.

"I'm just wondering whether it's true or not," she said. "If it's safe to walk out of my house, if I am accepted, it means maybe Rapid City has grown and maybe there is hope for America in a Midwestern Rapid City kind of state."

Murphy, whose father was a soldier, went into the U.S. Air Force in 1978, and spent 11 years at Loring Air Force Base in Maine and another 11 at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City before retiring in 2000.

Murphy decided to stay in the Black Hills after retiring and was soon after appointed to fill a vacancy on the Rapid City Council that same year. During Murphy's city council term, she began to transition as a woman.

"It was just me coming out," she told the AP. "But I got letters and emails from people in the same boat wondering how to come out. That wasn't my intention, but it was a good side intention. I brought a lot of awareness to the issue in Rapid City."

Murphy said although she will not be surprised if her opponents in the September 13 election will make her transition an issue, her thought processes are the same, and her gender identity is irrelevant to her public service.

She is ready to get back to helping others and would like to get involved again with the Red Cross and city politics, and the transition has done nothing but make her more open than she ever was as Tom, she said.

"The biggest thing is I found out I wasn't alone," said Murphy, "What I was feeling was normal. I couldn't really hide it anymore."

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