Palm Springs – Last Tuesday, Palm Springs resident Lisa Middleton made history, becoming the first transgender individual elected to a non-judicial, elected position in California.
As one of two new members elected to the Palm Springs City Council, Middleton provides a ray of hope to transgender, gay, and lesbian citizens everywhere. In spite of the president’s anti-everything rhetoric, on election day, voters saw beyond those biases and elected the best candidates without regard for race, religious affiliation, or sexual origin.
During her campaign and in her new position on the Palm Springs City Council, Middleton has expressed her desire to focus on issues related to homelessness and renewable energy. In addition, she hopes to advocate for regulations for builders, requiring all newly developed residential property buildings to include solar panels.
Although Middleton is cognizant of the historical significance of her election and its relevance, and spoke about it on the campaign trail, it was not the focus of her campaign. There was rarely a need to bring it up because, “Most everyone in this town knows who I am and knows that fact.”
Sixty-five-year-old Middleton came out as transgender in 1995 to her co-workers and in a separate, more difficult discussion, also came out to her children. During that period Middleton lived in San Francisco, where she spent much of her adult life, working as an auditor and manager with the State Compensation Insurance Fund for more than 35 years.
For a transgender candidate like Middleton to win a seat on the city council—in the LGBTQ-friendly community of Palm Springs—may have been easier than other communities. However, she commented that she did receive hate mail. In the end, however, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community of Palm Springs will now be reflected on the city council.