Meanwhile, Galaxy Marshall and mom Tara Gallagher cowrote a resolution directed at the state party and got it passed unanimously at the 43rd’s regular monthly meeting in May.
Their resolution bypasses Dawdy’s pitch to the DNC and simply calls on the state party itself to make local rules inclusive for nongendered people by 2018.
“We apologize that the DNC has not offered us more flexi-bility in gender identification..must choose a gender to run as.” As the Sanders crowd gathered in the auditorium (Hillary Clinton supporters were in the gym), Philip Dawdy, heading the voting process for Sanders hopefuls that day, told the delegates to form two lines: one for men and one for women.
When a nonbinary person asked if there was a nongendered option, Dawdy offered his apologies, he recalls, “but state party rules dictated they needed to pick whichever gender they were most comfortable identifying with…and get in line.
But for one older trans woman who was in the running to go to Philadelphia as a Sanders delegate, standing in the female line was the point. “I’m not a woman with an asterisk,” says Breanna Anderson, 58, a successful software engineer who joined the women’s line at the First Legislative District delegate meeting in Kirkland to make her one-minute pitch to move forward in the process.
She won that round with a speech that compared the long-game activism of the trans rights movement—like her own fight as a Microsoft employee in the early 2000s for health insurance that covered transgender care—to the need for the Sanders cause to include leaders who understand “you don’t always get it the first time out…you’ve got to be able to take some blows and keep coming back.” Later, toward the end of May, Anderson vied for one of the three female spots at the congressional district level.
Anderson says there wasn’t any discussion about nonbinary delegates at her suburban caucuses but admits “a conversation needs to be had about nongendered or gender-neutral people” so they aren’t left out.
At first Anderson viewed Sanders as just a solid protest candidate, but since his campaign has grown into a full-fledged movement—“a protest candidate on steroids,” Anderson says—she decided to run for a spot in Philadelphia to challenge the status quo.
And for Anderson, making sure transgender people are present is part of that challenge. “There are many regulations…that were seen as progressive then,” says Jamal Raad, a spokesperson for the Washington State Democrats, “but now are a little bit antiquated.” Interest in transgender delegates has popped up elsewhere.
I felt like absolute crap.” One Sanders delegate hopeful, trans activist Danni Askini, who was born a boy and has lived her adult life as a woman, explains that her experience has rendered gender itself nonbinary. “I feel deeply uncomfortable being forced to gender segregate,” says Askini, who made it past the legislative district level as a Sanders delegate but didn’t move on to the national level after that.
The rules that require delegates to identify strictly as either a man or woman were, ironically, put into place in the early 1970s, a time of earnest reform when the Democratic Party was trying to enforce gender balance in the name of women’s equality.
Tough conversations have been a theme in Anderson’s life for 30 years.