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Misty Snow Aims To Be The Nation's First Transgender Senator


Let's meet Misty Snow. She's a cashier at a grocery store in Utah, and she is also one of two transgender women running for Congress.

MISTY SNOW: Far too many members of Congress are from, like, rich backgrounds. They're lawyers, bankers, millionaires. And so I feel that being, like, a working-class person I can provide a voice for people who are currently - don't have a voice in government.

GREENE: Misty Snow won Utah's Democratic primary despite only raising $6,000. I asked her what it would mean to be the first transgender U.S. senator.

SNOW: I think it would be a good moment for the LGBT community and especially the trans community 'cause currently trans people don't have a voice in Congress, so I could be that voice that is currently not represented.

GREENE: You said you and your story were able to appeal to voters in a Democratic primary. Now that we're in a general election, Utah is a pretty religious conservative state. You're facing a Republican incumbent, Mike Lee. It sounds like you're facing an uphill battle here.

SNOW: Going against an incumbent anywhere in the country is always an uphill battle. But, you know, my opponent, he - like I said - most recent polls show that he only had a 38 percent approval rating, so there is that chance here.

GREENE: Well, party aside and the fact that you're running against an incumbent aside, how do you win over people who are devout? You know, I could imagine some in Utah believing in the idea that bathrooms should be divided up based on the gender that someone is assigned at birth. Can you win them over?

SNOW: I think a lot of people they don't - they're against those issues 'cause they don't know a lot of people. But Utah has this kind of libertarian culture to its religious conservatism. It's a very live and let live kind of culture. And, you know, and the dogged faith in Utah is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to Pew research, make up about 55 percent of Utah's population.

GREENE: The Mormons, yeah.

SNOW: You know, I was raised LDS myself so I kind of know that culture. Most of my family's LDS. A lot of my friends are LDS. The number one issue for them is their families. You know, so I'd really try to appeal to them by talking about raising the minimum wage, paid maternity leave. You know, Utah has the nation's highest birth rate and so that's an issue that really resonates with Utah mothers. So those issues, I think, are the ones I really want to hit on and want to give a - provide this message - I want to fight for working-class people and their families.

GREENE: Well, you say you grew up Mormon. And I wonder if you went through difficult times as you were transitioning in sort of winning over any family members or winning over friends to support you that might have offered some lessons as you try to win over voters.

SNOW: I didn't, like, have a lot of support to transition when I was younger, so I ended up doing it kind of more, like, a more - like, over the last few years.

GREENE: You said you didn't have a lot of support as you were growing up, so you've been through times when you struggled to be accepted.

SNOW: Yeah. When I was, like (unintelligible) I didn't have support from my mother to transition and, you know, so I put that off for a long time.

GREENE: Does that sort of prepare you to deal with that as a - someone trying to win office?

SNOW: Yeah. You know, I think so - I mean 'cause I've had, you know, some pretty negative experiences in my life and, you know, so it's like I haven't really had any really negative experiences running for office yet. So it's almost - been really positive. I had so many people willing to volunteer to put in time to donate to my campaign and make an effort to help me win the primary. Now they're helping me, you know, try to win the general election.

GREENE: Well, Misty Snow, before I let you go, is - I'm just wondering, is your mom supporting you now?

SNOW: Well, my mom's very proud of me now. You know, I think I finally gave her something to really be proud of and, you know, she came to our election night party and she's really proud of me.

GREENE: Well, best of luck in the campaign and a real pleasure talking to you.

SNOW: Thank you very much.

GREENE: That's Utah Democrat Misty Snow who is running for the U.S. Senate seat from Utah against Republican incumbent Mike Lee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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