GLAAD Media Institute alum Olivia Hill made history on October 2nd when she was sworn in as the first openly transgender elected official in Tennessee state history. Hill, who was elected on September 14th as a Metro Nashville Council member at-large, is a glimpse of hope for queer people during a perilous time as lawmakers in Tennessee advocate for anti-LGBTQ legislation such as a ban on drag performances, a “Don’t Say Gay” bill for public K-12 schools, and a ban on gender affirming care for youth.
The council-woman is a local to Nashville and served as an electrical engineer in the U.S Navy before becoming a senior supervisor for Vanderbilt University’s power plant for over 25 years. Though Hill faced alleged discrimination as a result of her transition while at Vanderbilt she is also a well-respected community member as shown by honors received from the institution including the Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Award in 2019 as well as LGBTQ advocate of the year in 2020. Due to her background, she’s prepared to tackle her top priorities of improving the city’s infrastructure and transportation.
Not only is she the state’s first transgender elected official, but she’s also a part of the first majority-women Metro Nashville council, with a ratio of 22 to 18. During her campaign, Hill worked with the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute which is dedicated to preparing aspiring politicians from the LGBTQ community for a successful run for office. She also previously met with and collaborated with the GLAAD Media institute.
Hill is excited to be a positive representation for the transgender community in Tennessee as she said, “For every trans kid in the state of Tennessee that has felt discomfort or that they didn’t belong…” Hill said. “We are valid. We are who we say we are. And we are going to move forward.”
At the same time, she also acknowledged that her gender was not something at the forefront of her campaign and stated, “I ran this race as a qualified human. I didn’t run this race as a trans woman, I didn’t run this race as the first trans woman or as a woman at all. I only ran this race to showcase my experience and for a right to sit at the table.”