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Meet the trans man running for NY City Council: his kids call him ‘mom’

Meet the trans man running for NY City Council: his kids call him ‘mom’
Mel Wymore, (D) Candidate for NYC Council Photo: Facebook
Mel Wymore, 55, is a New Yorker, a Democrat and a candidate for election to the governing council of the nation’s most populous city.

He also happens to be transgender.

The divorcé and his two adult children — ages 23 and 20 — have been through all this before, a political campaign waged four years ago, in which he received The New York Times’ endorsement.

“In 2013, I came in second,” Wymore told LGBTQ Nation last week, in a one-on-one interview on his home turf.

But Riley and Rowyn, like Wymore, were not fazed or discouraged by those 2013 results; he said they are energized like never before: “They’re not politicians themselves but they are deeply involved in the process, and are leaders in their own communities. They support me 100 percent and are on the campaign, working very hard.”

Mel Wymore, (D) Candidate for NYC Council Spiire

And that hard work is paying off. Wymore said the campaign is doing “very well” in a three-candidate race, headed for a primary on September 12th.

“We’re seeing great, enthusiastic support from the local community,” Wymore boasted after addressing a conference of LGBTQ leaders organized by Spiire.

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“There are people who feel left out and divided,” Wymore said. “And that’s what we’re out to change. I’m an inclusive leader and I really believe in empowering all people.”


Whether it’s to shop, dine or campaign, when Wymore and his children go out and about on Manhattan’s Upper West Side — which has been his home for 29 years — observers will undoubtedly hear these “kids” refer to Wymore in a way that, even in New York City, still sometimes draws a curious look of bewilderment.

“They say, ‘He’s my mom, he’s running for City Council.”


“They’re just adorable,” the Tucson transplant blushed in praising his children, and explaining his 46 years as their mom, and his own maternal instincts, were not erased by his transition. “I love my children so much!”

If victorious, Wymore would be the first trans representative on the City Council, and the first trans man in the state to win an election. But he’s not the first trans New Yorker to blaze this trail.

Way back in 1999, Melissa Sklarz was elected as a delegate to the Democratic Party’s Manhattan Judicial Convention, becoming the first transgender person elected in New York, according to The New York Times. She is now director of development for the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.

Last month, former TV reporter and attorney Kristen Browde announced her bid to be town supervisor in New Castle, N.Y., a northern suburb of the city. She is the first trans candidate in New York State to run for a town office with the nomination of a major party, and like Wymore, hopes to become the first trans local official elected in the state. Wymore recently accompanied Browde as her date to the annual Inner Circle Show, a charity gala roasting Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration that is organized by the city’s press corps.

Don’t Call Him ‘The Trans Candidate’

Wymore told The Times that his revelation about his trans identity only became clear about a decade ago, watching a clip of Oprah Winfrey interviewing an 8-year-old who was born a girl but had decided to live as a boy.

“My jaw dropped, because I could have been that child,” he told the paper.

Both Wymore and Browde have the endorsement of the Victory Fund, the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office.  And like Browde, Wymore said he is not running as “the transgender candidate.”

“The voters really don’t care about transgender issues, per se,” Wymore, the former chairman of Manhattan Community Board 7, told LGBTQ Nation.


For me, it goes to the notion that I know what it feels like to be left out, I know people who feel left out, and that bond is a way for us to communicate and empower ourselves to become part of a bigger picture, a bigger process.

That’s really what counts in this race. My identity as a transgender person is also relevant to the LGBTQ community, at large, but when it comes to local politics the issues are what matter.

Those issues include improving his district’s schools, saving local businesses, fighting for affordable housing and standing up to big developers. His stance on that last item led to fireworks this month, at what was supposed to be a non-political event to oppose what is promised to be the tallest building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, at 668-feet, roughly 60-stories. Incumbent city councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, also a Democrat, refused to allow Wymore to speak at what she claimed was her event, even though he organized the rally and secured both permits and police protection.

In his talk at Lincoln Center and with LGBTQ Nation, Wymore stressed the maxim of legendary politician Tip O’Neill: “all politics is local.”

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“In Washington, we’re seeing horrible things coming out in terms of policy,” Wymore said. “Very exclusive and abusive policy.”

We have a tyrant in office and we need to get rid of the tyrant in office. But the path to doing that is to organize locally. There’s no way to win an election if we don’t have the grass roots, ready to go. And that’s what happened in 2008. When Obama was elected, the Tea Party got to work and got people elected to local offices. And those local offices aren’t really what make a difference. It was the organizing of every block, every building, every community center, every school. That organizing creates the kind of fabric of community that can vote in or out at the state level and the national level.

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