//Colorado State Rep. Brianna Titone stands in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse on Nov. 10. She is the first openly transgender state legislator elected in Colorado. Photo by Esteban Fernandez | firstname.lastname@example.org
Two years ago State Rep. Brianna Titone made history by narrowly being elected Colorado’s first transgender legislator. This year, despite being targeted by anti LGBTQ+ campaign ads, Titone won reelection in the 27th District by a much larger margin.
“This time around, because I had a lot more support, a lot more money was spent in the race,” Titone said. “I’m the incumbent. The Democrats wanted to hold the seat. I got a lot more attention from some of the organizations and highlighted a little bit more than I was in the past.”
She won reelection with a 2,280 vote margin over her rival, which surpassed Titone’s 439 winning vote margin in 2018. Her followers on social media reflect that increased support. Titone said her follower count started going up and some local celebrities began talking about her more frequently. A video endorsement by Mayor Pete Buttigieg also gave her a boost.
This election showed a record number of LGBTQ+ candidates winning seats across the country, but Titone feels they still have a long way to go.
“Our representation is still seriously behind and we need more people to stand up and do this work,” Titone said. “And it’s hard. It’s not for anybody. You have to be able to take the hits sometimes when people are attacking you. You have to be able to play this political game the way it works. It’s hard for anybody to do. And as a trans person, it’s a little bit harder because we’re put under the microscope. We’re put up to a different standard.”
Titone got involved in politics because she cares about her community. She became a volunteer firefighter at 16, has been involved in her local Homeowner Association since 2011 and joined the Jefferson County LGBTQ+ Caucus in 2017. In the course of her term, she’s sponsored numerous bills associated with the environment, mental health, affordable housing and women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. Of all of these, there were two bills especially important to her.
A group of students in her district had formed The Intersectional Feminist Club and wanted to get menstrual hygiene products in their school. They asked the legislator to help them. Titone made it into a learning experience, telling the girls she would run the bill if they worked alongside her.
“Ultimately the bill was killed because we didn’t have the money,” Titone said. “And a lot of the bills with money attached to them, with really good causes, don’t go through.”
But one of the students, Julia Trujillo, ended up winning the gold award at the Girl Scouts for a project she was doing based on the campaign for the bill. Titone said she was extremely proud of Trujillo.
Titone also felt passionate about the Gay Panic or Transgender Panic Defense bill. It states that in a criminal case, a victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation is irrelevant. This includes circumstances where the victim made unwanted but non-forcible advances toward the defendant. The bill originally died, but Titone fought hard to bring it back. It became law in July.
“The people who most need protection in our society right now are Black trans women,” Titone said. “And when we were at the Capitol, and we heard all the Black Lives Matter protestors outside, it really spoke to me to say we need to do more for Black trans women. They don’t have representation and they need people to be standing up for them and this is an opportunity to pass that bill.”
Now Titone is working on a bill with State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet on mental health access.
“That’s one that’s really important for me and really is going to help a lot of people out,” said Titone. “Bills like that are good because they help everyone. But since the LGBTQ community is most vulnerable to those things, it helps them probably more. So I don’t have to run an LGBT bill to help the community because we’re helping everybody.”
Titone said when she heard Joe Biden had won the presidential election it was like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
“It’s pretty amazing to see Kamala Harris win for Vice President, which I think is even more significant right now,” Titone said. “Every time we can break a barrier, give an opportunity to someone who’s never seen a leadership role, we need to do that. We need to get more people in there. Those perspectives are important.”