State Rep. Leigh Finke, Minnesota's first transgender lawmaker, has been named one of USA Today's "Women of the Year."
Finke was honored alongside former First Lady Michelle Obama, actress Goldie Hawn, and NASA astronaut Col. Nicole Mann, as part of a group of "local and national heroines who make a positive impact in their communities every day."
Transitioning in 2017, Finke has been an activist for transgender and LGBTQ+ rights, as well as Black Lives Matter, according to the New York Post. Finke became the first transgender legislator appointed to the Minnesota House of Representatives in November, winning 81% of the district vote.
“I know what it means to want to find someone in office who is like you,” Finke told USA Today. “I want to do many things across many issues, but at the end of the day, the reason I’m here is because nobody who’s trans has ever been here before.”
According to the paper, Finke hears from "parents of trans children" because "gender-diverse families sometimes don’t understand exactly what it means for their trans child to be an adult."
“And I’m happy to provide that. I’m happy and joyful and well-loved and excited,” Finke said, adding that transgender-identifying individuals “just live our lives and win elections and do the same things everyone else does.”
“I think it’s going to be actually very difficult for a little while, very difficult,” Finke said of “the road to our own liberation.”
“There’s going to be pushback against that, but I think that we will be victorious, we will see a future in which trans people are living fully and hopefully without fear,” Finke added. “It’s going to take some work to get there. But when I think about that future I overcome my adversity.”