Alaska sees first two transgender women elected to office

Published: Oct. 30, 2018 at 9:05 AM AKDT
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Alaska is seeing its first two transgender women elected to office, right here in the Interior.

Kathy Ottersten and Liz Lyke recently took positions as elected officials during the past municipal election.

While they serve in two different capacities, focusing on different issues, they both have something in common - they are transgender.

"I just need to like just have this letter 'T' on my shirt and tell everyone, do I need to handout to tell you that I'm trans, there's a button you should have worn,” they said, giving light to an often heavy topic. And while they can have a laugh about this topic now, it's because of the Fairbanks community that these ladies felt empowered to run for office.

"This person isn't just a Republican or Democrat, they also care about this thing or that thing, they volunteer to do this. We see people in their whole entirety which is really important and I think that's what people did with Kathy and I, like oh yeah I see more than this one thing,” Lyke said.

However there are still a variety of challenges trans men and women have to face. Ottersten hopes that one day it can be just as easy as saying what blood type you are.

“What I would like is basic indifference. I'm AB blood type, I would like it to be about important as that but the problem still remains, every doctor I might see will know don't transfuse me with something wrong, if you have AB blood if I need a transfusion but they know nothing for the most part about people who are transgender," Ottersten said.

Both Ottersten and Lyke emphasize that being transgender is just one aspect of their lives. Making history in Alaska, these women want to serve their neighbors, friends and family, doing so as newly elected officials in Fairbanks.

Kathy Ottersten and Liz Lyke have officially been sworn into office for their respective positions. Ottersten will serve on the Fairbanks City Council for a term of one year, while Lyke will serve a term of three years.