Andrea Jenkins

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Andrea Jenkins
A black woman in a green top speaks from behind a wooden podium that reads "Hamline University".
Jenkins at Hamline University, 2010.
Vice-president of the Minneapolis City Council
Assumed office
January 6, 2018
Preceded by Elizabeth Glidden
Member of the Minneapolis City Council from the 8th Ward
Assumed office
January 6, 2018
Preceded by Elizabeth Glidden
Personal details
Born 1961 (age 56–57)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Democratic–Farmer–Labor
Alma mater Metropolitan State University,
Hamline University,
Southern New Hampshire University
Occupation Policy aide, curator

Andrea Jenkins (born 1961) is an American policy aide, politician, writer, performance artist, poet, and transgender activist. She is known for being the first African-American openly transgender woman elected to public office in the United States,[1] serving since January 2018 on the Minneapolis City Council.

Jenkins moved to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota in 1979 and was hired by the Hennepin County government, where she worked for a decade. Jenkins worked as a staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years before beginning work as curator of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota's Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1961, Andrea Jenkins was raised in North Lawndale, Chicago.[2][3] When she was young, she participated in the Cub Scouts and played football at Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy before moving to Minneapolis in 1979 to attend the University of Minnesota.[2][3][4]

Andrea Jenkins came out as gay in her 20s and married a woman; they had a child then divorced and Jenkins went to work with the Hennepin County government.[4] At 30, she began to outwardly present as female and returned to college to finish her bachelor's degree from Metropolitan State University, which she followed by earning two master's degrees–an MFA in creative writing from Hamline University and an MS in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University.[2][4][5]


Jenkins worked for a decade as a vocational counselor with Hennepin County.[2][4] In 2001, Robert Lilligren, who was running for a seat on the Minneapolis City Council, asked Jenkins to be a part of his campaign.[4] After his election, Jenkins joined Lilligren's staff where she worked as an aide for four years.[citation needed]

In 2005, Elizabeth Glidden was elected to the City Council and hired Jenkins as an aide, in part for Jenkins's extensive network that she had built up during her time in Lilligren's office. While on Glidden's staff, Jenkins earned a fellowship dedicated to transgender issues and helped to establish the Transgender Issues Work Group in 2014.[4] That year, she organized a City Council summit on transgender equity intended to highlight the issues trans people in Minnesota face.[6]

In 2010, Jenkins won the Naked Stages grant from the Jerome Foundation and Pillsbury House Theater. She created "Body Parts: Reflections on Reflections."[7]

In 2015, after 12 years as a policy aide with the Minneapolis City Council, Jenkins began work at the University of Minnesota's Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies where she curates the Transgender Oral History Project (TOHP).[4] Lisa Vecoli, curator of the Tretter Collection, noted that the materials within the collection tend to be gay white male-focused. In her role as curator of the TOHP, Jenkins will seek to expand the trans narratives archived in the collection by recording oral histories from up to 300 individuals, totaling as many as 400 hours of interviews.[3]

Jenkins announced in December 2016 that she would run to represent Minneapolis's 8th Ward on the City Council. Glidden, who held the seat, announced that she would not run for reelection.[8] On November 7, 2017, Jenkins won the election with more than 70% of the vote.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Jenkins is a performance artist, poet, and writer.[10] She participates in the Trans Lives Matter movement and chairs the board of Intermedia Arts.[3] In 2015, Jenkins was grand marshal of the Twin Cities Pride Parade.[10]


  • Jenkins, Andrea (2006). Tributaries: Poems Exploring Black History. Minneapolis, MN: Purple Lioness Publications. 
  • Jenkins, Andrea (November 18, 2015). The T is Not Silent: new and selected poems. Purple Lioness Productions. p. 86. ISBN 978-0692578407. 
  • Jenkins, Andrea (April 1, 2016). "The Price We Pay: How Race and Gender Identity Converge". In Sun Yung Shin. A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota. Minnesota Historical Society Press. ASIN B01N31BJTX. 


  1. ^ Chia, Jessica (2017-11-08). "First openly transgender African American woman elected". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2018-02-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d Zurowski, Cory (June 24, 2015). "Andrea Jenkins archives LGBTQ stories for the ages". City Pages. Archived from the original on May 29, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d Bruch, Michelle (May 5, 2015). "Building an archive of transgender history". Southwest Journal. Archived from the original on June 18, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Golden, Erin (April 27, 2015). "Former Minneapolis council aide brings transgender issues to the forefront". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 
  5. ^ Swan, Wallace, ed. (2015). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Civil Rights: A Public Policy Agenda for Uniting a Divided America. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. xxi. ISBN 978-1466567306. 
  6. ^ Combs, Marianne (September 24, 2014). "Increased visibility for transgender people does not yet mean equality". MPR News. Archived from the original on November 1, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Andrea Jenkins | Pillsbury House Theatre". Retrieved 2018-06-30. 
  8. ^ Belz, Adam (December 19, 2016). "Transgender activist Andrea Jenkins runs for Minneapolis City Council". Star Tribune. Retrieved December 20, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Election 2017 Results". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2017-11-08. 
  10. ^ a b Herrera, Allison; Bernstein, Corina (June 26, 2015). "Andrea Jenkins, Grand Marshal of 2015 Twin Cities Pride uplifts trans voices". Twin Cities Daily Planet. Archived from the original on May 28, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 

External links[edit]