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Meet the First Trans Man Seeking Office in North Carolina

Gray Ellis

Gray Ellis, the first out transgender man to run for office in North Carolina, is introducing himself to voters in a new video.

“I understand what it’s like to feel like an outsider — to question whether I’ll be accepted for simply being who I am,” Ellis, a Democrat who is running for state Senate, says in the video. “I’m a trans man. I’m the first trans man ever to run for political office in the state of North Carolina. I’m one of the voices not heard in North Carolina politics. It’s important to have a voice of reason and knowledge representing you — a voice who understands how it feels to be marginalized.

Ellis, a lawyer, is seeking the Democratic nomination in the Durham-area 20th District. Two other Democrats, Natalie Murdock and Pierce Freelon, are also running, as is Republican John Tarantino. The incumbent, Democrat Floyd McKissick Jr., has resigned to join the state’s Utilities Commission, and North Carolina Democrats have chosen former state Rep. Mickey Michaux to finish his term. Michaux is not expected to seek election.

A transgender woman is running for the state Senate as well. Democrat Angela Bridgman, a business owner and activist, is running in the 18th District, which is near the 20th. She is the first out trans woman to seek office in North Carolina, which once had one of the nation’s strictest laws limiting trans people’s access to restrooms and other single-sex facilities. That law, the infamous House Bill 2, has been partially repealed.

Bridgman has one opponent in the Democratic primary, Sarah Crawford, and there are also two Republicans and a Libertarian running for the seat, according to Ballotpedia. The incumbent, Republican John Alexander, is not seeking reelection.

The primary election will be held March 3 and the general election November 3.

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