Minnesota’s first openly transgender legislator elected

Leigh Finke in district 66a


Jesse Belen

Social Studies teacher Emily Rennhak owns a pride flag in her classroom C371. It shows support for Leigh Finke and the rest of the LGBT+ community.

Eligible voters went to local voting sites to cast their ballots on Election Day, Nov. 8. The people in district 66a — which consists of the cities St. Paul, Lauderdale, Falcon Heights and Roseville — elected Leigh Finke. The votes were counted and the majority of people voted for Leigh Finke, the first openly transgender female to serve as a Minnesota legislator. 

Legislator Leigh Finke said she has been into politics for a long time, which led to her recent campaign. 

“I’ve been into politics since college. My first deep dive into the activist space was protesting the Iraq War and I hung around that space for almost 20 years until I started getting into the DFL political world,” Finke said. 

Although Finke was not elected specifically in St. Louis Park, Park freshman Tess Machalek said she still feels the impact of having a transgender legislator represent Minnesota.

“Since I am part of the LGBTQ+ community, it is very important for me to feel represented in congress,” Machalek said. 

Social Studies teacher Emily Rennhak talks about how this representation means a lot to her due to the current contentions on reproductive rights. 

“As a woman and as somebody that is queer, its really cool to see representation in legislation. I feel as though she’s somebody who is going to fight for reproductive rights that are on the line in this current election season,” Rennhak said. 

On her website, Finke says that she will fight for reproductive rights, along with racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights and more. She also said she feels strongly about mental health, education after Covid, public safety and more. 

Machalek said she hopes to see Finke follow through with some of those campaigns.

“I hope that she will fulfill her campaign promises, like protecting women’s rights, protecting LGBTQ+ rights, improving public schools and changing our public safety system,” Machalek said.

Rennhak said this marks a milestone for today’s youth. 

“She’s a role model because she’s fighting for equity on all fronts, which is important,” Rennhak said. 

Finke said this new transgender representation is not only vital for Minnesota, but for the rest of the United States as well. 

“I ran because I thought it was essential to get trans representation into our government, especially as a national coordinated Anti-Trans movement in the United States continues to ramp up and be successful,” Finke said.