State Democrats appoint first openly transgender woman to national convention
By Martin Kidston/MISSOULA CURRENT
The Montana Democratic Party will send a diverse delegation to the national convention in Philadelphia later this year, including several Native Americans and the first openly transgender woman to represent the state at a national convention.
During the party’s state convention in Helena this weekend, Democrats selected 10 delegates for Hillary Clinton and 11 for Bernie Sanders. The party retains six super delegates, including Gov. Steve Bullock and U.S Sen. Jon Tester, who have yet to pledge their support for either candidate.
“I feel very honored to be the first openly transgender national delegate from Montana,” Anita Noelle Green said Monday morning at a downtown Missoula coffee shop. “It shows that the state of Montana is actually incredibly progressive. A lot of people don’t think Montana is progressive as a state, but it actually is.”
Green, 25, was selected by the party to represent the state as an at-large delegate for Sanders. Sharon Peregoy from the Crow Agency is the state’s other at-large Sanders’ delegate.
The two at-large delegates for Clinton include Barnett Sporkin-Morrison of Choteau and Stacie Anderson of Missoula. Sanders defeated Clinton in Montana by a 51 to 45 percent margin.
“Bernie Sanders really did a lot for the queer community in the 1980s when he came out for same-sex marriage,” Green said. “As someone who struggled with their gender identity and struggled in the community, it meant a lot to me to know there was someone out there who has always been an ally to someone like me.”
While Green will make Montana history this July in Philadelphia, the chance to serve as a state delegate isn’t her first foray into politics. She was elected to the student senate at the University of Montana in 2010 and ran for the Missoula City Council last year.
She currently serves on the executive board for the Missoula County Democrats as a congressional committee woman.
“I first got interested in politics ever since I really learned that gay marriage wasn’t legal,” said Green. “I didn’t realize I was getting involved in politics, but I was because it became a political issue. My first introduction to politics was through queer politics.”
Though the issues surrounding same-sex marriage brought Green into the political arena – and landed her in the Sanders’ camp – she stands on multiple issues. She joins Sanders in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and the Trans Pacific Partnership, among other issues.
“I think it’s important to beat Donald Trump,” said Green. “In the event that Sanders doesn’t get the Democratic nomination, I will vote for Hillary Clinton, but I’m Sanders all the way.”
Carol Williams, who represented Missoula in the state Senate from 2004 to 2012 and became the first woman to serve as leader of the Democratic Caucus in 2011, was one of four delegates selected from western Montana to represent Clinton.
Williams has known Clinton for 30 years and remains a staunch supporter. If elected, Clinton would become the first woman to hold the U.S. Presidency.
“Clinton has such passion and belief, but it hasn’t always been easy,” Williams said. “She’s taken hard stands and persevered in a way I think a lot of people wouldn’t be able to do. I have such admiration for her not only as a human being, but also as a public servant.”
The Montana Republican Party held its state convention earlier this year and named its own 27 national delegates.
Nancy Keenan, the executive director the Montana Democratic Party, said supporters of both Clinton and Sanders worked to elect the delegates that best represented their values and respective candidates.
She described this year’s crop of delegates as diverse, making a strong statement for Montana at the national convention.
“After a great day discussing the issues and values that we (Montana Democrats) uphold, it was so inspiring to watch the way delegates from all over the state put those words into action by selecting a diverse group of individuals who will represent us in Philadelphia,” Keenan said.