Danni Askini

Danni Askini. Photo courtesy of Danni Askini.

Gender Justice League Executive Director and trans rights activist Danni Askini has announced her candidacy for the 43rd district of the Washington state House of Representatives, a seat being vacated by Brady Walkinshaw. A win for Askini would make her the first openly trans person to be elected to the legislature.

Askini has been in the local and national spotlight lately as a result of her work in helping to organize resistance to the recent proposals by the WA legislature around restricting trans people’s access to public restroom facilities.

“We worked really hard to make that happen,” Askini recently told former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn as a guest on his podcast.

For Askini, the race is about the potential to change the tone of the dialogue that’s currently taking place within her state’s government.

“I think there is an opportunity to have a conversation about who trans people are,” she said, “what our leadership looks like, what we can bring to the conversation. The legislature, I think, could use some new voices and new leadership that brings to the table a lot of what I think we’re seeing in the presidential race as well.”

Danni Askini

Danni Askini speaks to activists. Photo courtesy of danniaskini.com

While Askini has been an active voice in the political arena from the outside, being on the inside would give her the opportunity be one of the voices that help shapes the actual creation of Washington policy.

“And help shape the conversation,” she adds, “and have the closed door meetings with colleagues, and champion issues, and provide a different angle to the perspective. Also bringing to the table my experience as a person who’s formerly homeless, and went through foster care, and who has worked on a huge array of issues.”

It’s experiences like those, she thinks, combined with your broad range of local and national advocacy work, that make her qualified to represent the residents of Seattle who live in the 43rd district, as well as make a difference.

“Bringing to the table a lot of those experiences,” she agrees, “deepens and strengthens the conversation on the left that adds a layer of complexity that is needed to galvanize to galvanize people.”

A left-leaning, Bernie Sanders supporter, Askini is no stranger to taking on tough campaigns. Not that a run for the Washington House would necessarily be a tough one, but she already faces stiff competition from the other Democrats who’ve already announced their candidacy, including Nicole Macri, Thomas Pitchford, Sameer Ranade, and Dan Shih.

Still, based on her currently level of experience, at least. Askini remains undaunted.

“Educating the populace about trans people has been very difficult,” she explains, “and I’ve gained so many skills from that.”