Tennessee voters elect first trans person to run for office in the state

Olivia Hill
Olivia Hill Photo: Victory Fund

Olivia Hill was not your typical candidate for city council in Nashville, TN. A Navy veteran, she is the senior supervisor of the Vanderbilt University power plant, overseeing a 24/7 operation with a budget of over $100 million. Obviously qualified, there was only one thing that could potentially hold her back.

In a state known for persecuting the LGBTQ+ community, Hill is a transgender woman.

Voters in the area, however, didn’t let the wave of hostility, led by Republican state legislators, challenge their respect for her qualifications and abilities. They voted her into an at-large position on the council.

She is the first LGBTQ+ person to be elected in a county-wide race. She’s also the first transgender person to run for public office in the state.

“My expertise is fixing things, and while my focus is repairing Nashville’s outdated infrastructure, I also want to ensure that our city is represented with true diversity in a state where the ruling party thinks I should head to the closet,” she said. “I am hopeful that I can help those who don’t appreciate me and my LGBTQ+ siblings learn that we have so much to offer and to stop tearing us down.”

Hill served in the Navy Engineering Division for a decade, seeing combat in Desert Storm. While in service, she gained expertise in electrical engineering, a skill set she used to rise to her position at the power plant. She has emerged as a community leader, educating the public about difficulties faced by women and the LGBTQ+ community.

She focused her campaign on repairing the city’s overburdened infrastructure.

“I cannot wait to get to work for our city, but tonight, we celebrate,” Hill told supporters at her victory party. “We celebrate the opportunity to help repair our problems while looking forward to our city’s future. We celebrate the opportunity to embrace every neighborhood, no matter the zip code, and help it reach its potential.”

A member of the Tennessee Pride Chamber board of directors, she was the 2023 Grand Marshall of the city’s Pride celebration. She received Vanderbilt University’s Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Award in 2019 and was chosen as the LGBTQ Advocate of the Year in 2020. In 2021, she sued Vanderbilt University for the discrimination she endured after her transition, a suit she settled the following year. 

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