2017 marked a historic year for LGBTQ candidates, but the United States still has a long way to go.
America needs 50 times more queer and trans elected officials to be elected to office before the community is represented proportionally, according to a new report from the Victory Fund. The political action committee estimates that 448 LGBTQ politicians are currently serving in local, state, and national government.
That’s an extremely small percentage of the overall population of elected officials in the United Statesat just 0.1 percent. That means about one in 1000 government representatives identify as LGBTQ.
Estimates vary on the size of America’s queer and trans community. The Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California Los Angeles, claims that LGBTQ individuals make up 3.5 percent of the adult population, which amounts to nine million people. Gallup reports the number is higher, finding that 10 million adults in the U.S. are queer or transgender.
In order to achieve equal representation, the Victory Fund projects that 21,307 more candidates would need to get voted into office.
“The severe underrepresentation of LGBTQ people in elected positions is an urgent call to arms for LGBTQ leaders to run for office and be our voice in the halls of power,” says Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, President & CEO of Victory Institute, in a statement. “When LGBTQ elected officials are in the room, it humanizes our lives, changes the debate and leads to more inclusive legislation.”
One of the more troubling findings in the “Out for America” report is that just over one-fifth of LGBTQ officials (20.5 percent) currently elected to office are people of color, even though 27.6 percent of the American population is non-white. Meanwhile, just 1.8 percent of openly LGBTQ politicians identify as trans or gender nonconforming.
The community inched a small step closer toward filling that gap this year, when more than 40 queer and trans candidates won their respective races.
Seattle elected Jenny Durkan, its first openly lesbian mayor, in the 2017 runoff elections. Danica Roem became the first transgender woman to ever serve as a state legislator after defeating anti-LGBTQ extremist Del. Bob Marshall, who refused to call Roem by female pronouns throughout the race.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis City Council elected two black transgender people for the first time in its history: Phillipe Cunningham and Andrea Jenkins. Jenkins is the only trans woman of color to ever win election in the United States.
But many more glass ceilings will need to be shattered before the LGBTQ community achieves equality, as the Victory Fund report indicates.