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A transgender woman has moved a step closer to becoming the first transgender governor in US history after she won Vermont's primary election.

Christine Hallquist defeated three other Democrats on Tuesday and will take on incumbent governor Phil Scott, a Republican, in the 6 November general election.

"I think Vermont is a beacon of hope for the rest of the country," Ms Hallquist said during an interview with Reuters.

"This is what I call expanding our moral compass and that is what I think it represents."

The contest comes at a time of uncertainty for transgender rights, which expanded under the administration of Democratic president Barack Obama.

They have been reversed under Republican Donald Trump's administration, a victory for religious conservatives who only recognise traditional gender roles.

Transgender candidates are hoping to build on the breakthrough year of 2017, when at least 10 won office across the country at levels ranging from state legislator to zoning (town planning) board – the most ever recorded.

This year, 43 transgender candidates have run for political office at all levels in the United States, most of them Democrats.

Ms Hallquist is the first openly transgender candidate to win a major party nomination for governor or a statewide office of any kind.

The win "is a defining moment in the movement for transequality", said Annise Parker, president and chief executive of LGBTQ Victory Fund, which seeks to elect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates.

David Hallquist was chief executive of the Vermont Electric Cooperative before publicly transitioning to a female identity while leading the power utility in 2015.

Image: Ilhan Omar and her husband Ahmed Hirisi in 2016

While many transgender people change their name given at birth upon transition, Ms Hallquist has made David her middle name and speaks comfortably about her previous identity.

"I'm proud to be a role model for others in… marginalised communities so they can rise up and be recognised," she said.

"I love Vermont because we look beyond these surface issues.

"I just happen to be a leader who is transgender. Vermonters know that. They voted to support me because of what I am going to do for Vermont."

In another ground-breaking political moment, Somali-American state legislator Ilhan Omar claimed victory in her primary in Minnesota, putting her on track to become one of the first female Muslim members of the US house of representatives.

Original Article

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