La Don Henry, photo from reviewjournal.com
- Transgender man La Don Henry, if elected, could become the first openly transgender state legislator Nevada.
- Henry said that he was encouraged to run when President Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016.
- Human Rights Campaign said that Henry’s background would shape how he would resolve issues and be an inspiration for future generation.
A military trans veteran is on campaign for election in Nevada’s state legislature according to the latest transgender news by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and posted on its website last April 22.
Transgender man La Don Henry, if elected, could become the first openly transgender state legislator Nevada.
Decision to join politics
Henry, an entrepreneur, radio host, and who served in the Army as a woman for four years, said that he was encouraged to run when President Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016. He feared that Trump’s administration would compromise the advances made for the LGBT rights in the country.
On the night of the announcement of Trump’s victory, his wife, a teacher, woke him up.
“She said, “It’s OK; you can hide. You don’t have to tell people you’re transgender,’” he shared.
He didn’t hide however and instead decided to campaign for a seat in District 42 Assembly in the Spring Valley area. The post was vacated by Irene Bustamante Adams of the Democratic Party, who chose not to be re-elected. Henry would square off co-Democrats Kathleen Lauckner and Alexander Assefa in the primary elections this June.
Once elected, he would work on the state’s education system, improving the economy through diversification, and representing marginalized sectors of society such as immigrants, at-risk youth and former prisoners.
“It wasn’t just me being transgender that made me want to run,” Henry, 41, said. “There are so many different marginalized communities right now who feel like they’re not citizens.”
His journey in living his authentic self as a man started when he was young.
“I was uncomfortable seeing my body as it was. I had a different image of my body,” Henry stated. “For a long time, I would not take off my clothes, other than to take a shower.”
Growing up, he preferred playing ‘cops and robbers’ instead of the Barbie dolls that were gifts during Christmas.
He underwent transition last year, taking hormone therapy and undergoing gender-affirming surgery, a decision that alienated him from his father.
Experiencing harassment, threats, and curious glances from strangers, he claimed these experiences only emboldened him to serve in the government.
Inspiration for future generation
Human Rights Campaign, through its Nevada director Briana Escamilla, said that Henry’s background would shape how he would approach issues and be an inspiration for future generation.
“I think it’s so important to be able to see yourself in the people who represent you,” Escamilla remarked. “It could be a lifesaving message to a transgender kid who is struggling and afraid to come out. Being able to see themselves in the Legislature could be lifesaving for them.”
Henry is not the first transgender candidate in Nevada, as that distinction belongs to Lauren Scott who ran under the Republican party in 2016 in Reno area’s District 30 but lost to Democrat Michael Sprinkle.
Jason Frierson, Assembly Speaker, commented that there were very few transgender candidates who chose to run for elected posts. He claimed many of them learned to live in the shadows, but things are looking up for them.
“As our community grows in acceptance of all of its citizens, I certainly expect a broader spectrum of candidates,” Frierson explained.