Meet the trans woman running for Congress in Massachusetts
Former intelligence analyst and trans woman Alexandra Chandler is running for Congress
Alexandra Chandler is a trans woman and a former intelligence analyst at the Pentagon. Now, she’s running for Congress with the hopes of representing Massachusetts’ third district in the House of Representatives.
Chandler is running on a platform of bettering jobs and pay, improving healthcare and making it more affordable, voting rights and civil liberties, and advancing programs to combat climate change.
Meet Alexandra Chandler
‘Being a transgender woman has taught me a few things about the divisions in our society. Many people believe fear and hate in the United States have risen to such levels that these challenges are impossible to overcome. But my story demonstrates that good is possible when you look across our divisions as I have,’ Chandler wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post.
Chandler transitioned in 2006 – long before President Obama’s executive order banning LGBTI discrimination among government contractors and employees was signed in 2014.
‘After I announced my transition, I trembled each morning as I walked through the turnstile at work. Some colleagues urged our agency’s leadership to fire me. I fought nearly paralyzing fear in hallways, rushing to get to my cubicle where I could get on with the mission I loved,’ she writes.
‘I have spent years within the different communities into which we divide ourselves. At different times in my life, I have been in men’s locker rooms and in women’s. I have walked down the street as a straight male, as a lesbian woman and as a person of indeterminate gender. I have protested the government, and I have zealously worked for the military and the intelligence community. I am a person of faith, but my faith tradition has a troubled relationship with LGBT people. I am a mother, and I am also the biological father of my children.’
‘I became a leader, which I had never really been at work before. And I did a lot more good for the mission than I would have ever done otherwise,’ Chandler says of her transition in an interview with NPR.
‘When you can barely stand the sound of your own voice, where you can barely stand the sight of yourself, how can you properly go into a meeting and discuss the toughest problems out there and bring your best solutions to the table? You can’t. So once that was dealt with, I was so much more effective.’
On the trans military ban
Chandler, one of the US military’s top intelligence analysts, was promoted to division chief. She was at her desk in the Pentagon this past July when President Trump announced his plan to ban transgender people from military positions.
‘It was disbelief, honestly,’ Chandler tells NPR. ‘I was sitting at my desk in the Pentagon when emails started to come at me. And then one of the emails that I received said, have we all just been fired – because it was not entirely clear from the wording whether or not it would only apply to transgender servicemembers or transgender civilian employees of the military like myself. So it was just a surreal, surreal moment to be honest.’
Chandler has since left her position in the Pentagon.
‘First and foremost, I didn’t run from the intelligence community. I ran to my family. Certainly the tweet that day had something to do with what turned out to be my next plans, but that was an evolving process. I knew that I wanted to continue to serve. I didn’t quite know how. But then events moved that decision along.’
It was around this time that people began urging Chandler to run for Congress herself.
‘So what happened was our home district member of Congress, Niki Tsongas, a wonderful representative from our district, suddenly announced her retirement,’ Chandler explains.
‘And I took no immediate notice of this insofar as for myself, I just saw that we lost a great representative. Then people started calling me. People had to ask me. People had to encourage me. It wasn’t something that I saw myself immediately doing.’
‘But then I realized that the fact that I spent years leading teams of analysts that could tackle the toughest problems on this planet – we’re talking about stopping the proliferation of nuclear and missile technology from countries like North Korea. We’re talking about arms smuggling to terrorist groups and in war zones. We could get it done with Americans of every background, every political persuasion. So if we can get the toughest problems done inside the intelligence community, then what I realized is I was the best in this political environment to actually get things done in Congress.’
Learn more about Alexandra Chandler’s congressional campaign on her website.