Monday, May 17, 2010

A Transitional Candidate

One of the fun things about following politics is that among all the mind-numbing chatter and posturing, someone comes along that catches you by complete surprise. Donna Milo is just such a person.

Donna Milo — a Cuban-American, conservative Republican, transgender woman running for Congress — says she doesn’t like labels.

”I’m an American. I make my way on the basis of ability. My triumphs are based on my abilities, not on a label or a crutch,” said Milo, a Miami Planning Advisory Board member running to replace U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, one of the House’s most liberal Democrats.

Milo, 48, will speak Monday night at Fort Lauderdale City Hall, a guest at the monthly meeting of the Sunshine Republicans club, a conservative group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender South Floridians.

”Donna is a very unique individual,” Sunshine Republicans President Benjamin Lewis said. ”She brings a story with her candidacy. The story is of overcoming obstacles and desires to become the person she has wanted to be.”


As she began her transition, Milo lived three years as woman. She legally became Donna in 2000 and shortly after had gender-reassignment surgery. Her quality of life changed immediately, said Milo, who now lives in Miami’s Shorecrest neighborhood.

”After I transitioned and became at peace with myself and my life and my body, I’ve been able to give time to the community.”

I couldn’t vote for Ms. Milo; she’s not in my district, and then there’s the whole conservative Republican thing, but I give her huge props and chops for doing what she believes is right. I also will be interested to see how she’s greeted by both the Republican establishment, which has major issues with sexual orientation and identity, and the LGBTQ community, which is seen by a lot of people — including those inside it — as a reliably liberal voting bloc.

It would be nice to see her run for Congress (although not necessarily win) and that her gender identification is greeted with a shrug by both sides. That would truly be a change.