Andrea Jenkins

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Andrea Jenkins
A woman in a black and white pinstripe top smiles and rests her chin on her hand. She sits in a high-backed brown chair, behind which is a yellow window. In front of her, the top of a laptop computer is visible.
Vice President of the Minneapolis City Council
Assumed office
January 6, 2018
Preceded byElizabeth Glidden
Member of the Minneapolis City Council
from the 8th ward
Assumed office
January 6, 2018
Preceded byElizabeth Glidden
Personal details
Born1961 (age 59–60)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationMetropolitan State University (BA)
Hamline University (MFA)
Southern New Hampshire University (MS)
WebsiteOfficial website

Andrea Jenkins (born 1961) is an American policy aide, politician, writer, performance artist, poet, and transgender activist. She is known for being the first black 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 and education[edit]

Born in 1961, Andrea Jenkins was raised in North Lawndale, Chicago.[2][3] She has said she grew up in "a low-income, working-class community" and "lived in some pretty rough places." She was raised by a single mother, Shirley Green, who was "very loving and very much concerned that we get a good education."[4]

When she was young and still presenting as male, 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][5]

In her 20s, Jenkins came out as gay, married a woman, became a parent, and divorced.[5] 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][5][6] During which, Jenkins worked as a vocational counselor for the Hennepin County government.[5] In 2018, Jenkins completed Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government as a David Bohnett LGBTQ Victory Institute Leadership Fellow.


Jenkins worked for a decade as a vocational counselor with Hennepin County.[2][5] In 2001, Robert Lilligren, who was running for a seat on the Minneapolis City Council, asked Jenkins to be a part of his campaign.[5] After his election, Jenkins joined Lilligren's staff where she worked as an aide for four years.[7]

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.[5] That year, she organized a City Council summit on transgender equity intended to highlight the issues trans people in Minnesota face.[8]

In 2010, Jenkins won the Naked Stages grant from the Jerome Foundation and Pillsbury House Theater. She created "Body Parts: Reflections on Reflections".[9]

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).[5] 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.[10] Her campaign slogan was "Leadership. Access. Equity."[4] With Hayden Mora, Jenkins founded Trans United Fund, a political action committee (PAC) to aid transgender candidates.[11] On November 7, 2017, Jenkins won the election with more than 70% of the vote.[12] The Minneapolis City Council has only had six other Black members. During the 2017 election, three Black council members won their races.[7]

She was elected Vice President of City Council shortly after her election. She also serves as chair of the new Race Equity Subcommittee and helped create a Racial Equity Community Advisory Committee consisting of city residents.[4]

Jenkins was one of several dozen women featured on the January 29, 2018, Time cover.[13] The related article is about the many women who ran for office in 2017 and 2018. Five of the women featured are lesbian and transgender candidates, all recipients of money from the LGBTQ Victory Fund.[14]

Despite initially supporting abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department following the killing of George Floyd, Jenkins later decided, following a recent wave of shooting, to instead support having police still respond to calls and do their job to “serve and protect” the community, and instead settled for supporting effort for Minneapolis to focus on creating more schools, housing and other services that prevent people from pursuing crime or turning to violence.[15]

Jenkins is one of three Minneapolis City Council members who voted to dismantle the city's police department, and afterwards began using private security for protection.[16]

In June 2020, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride parade, Queerty named her among the fifty heroes “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people”.[17][18]

Personal life[edit]

Jenkins is a performance artist, poet, and writer who identifies as bisexual and queer.[19][20] She is a grandmother. Her own mother now lives in Ward 8. She has a partner of eight years. Jenkins was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018.[4]

She has participated in the Trans Lives Matter movement and chaired the board of Intermedia Arts.[3] In 2015, Jenkins was grand marshal of the Twin Cities Pride Parade.[19] Jenkins has cited Barack Obama, Harold Washington, the Black Panther Party, Jeremiah Wright, and Jesse Jackson as having influenced her to be involved with politics.[21]


  • 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 (ed.). A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota. Minnesota Historical Society Press. ASIN B01N31BJTX.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chia, Jessica (November 8, 2017). "First openly transgender African American woman elected". Daily News. New York. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  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 Kendrick, Julie (November 2, 2018). "Zen master". Minnesota Good Age. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b Evans-Nash, Vickie (January 24, 2018). "New Mpls council member takes on 'big, big responsibility'". MN Spokesman-Recorder. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Andrea Jenkins | Pillsbury House Theatre". Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  10. ^ Belz, Adam (December 19, 2016). "Transgender activist Andrea Jenkins runs for Minneapolis City Council". Star Tribune. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  11. ^ "Transgender political candidates are increasingly common. The money backing them is not". Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  12. ^ "Election 2017 Results". Star Tribune. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  13. ^ "The TIME Vault: 2018". Time. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  14. ^ "Time Magazine cover features Danica Roem and 4 other Victory Fund candidates". Metro Weekly. January 20, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  15. ^ Navratil, Liz (June 25, 2020). "Despite a wave of violence, Minneapolis 'defund police' effort continues". Star Tribune. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  16. ^ "Minneapolis council members who voted to dismantle the police use private security". Washington Examiner. June 27, 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  17. ^ "Queerty Pride50 2020 Honorees". Queerty. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  18. ^ Tracer, Daniel (June 26, 2020). "Meet 6 Black trailblazers fighting racism: "I didn't come to play; I came to dismantle white supremacy."". Queerty. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Caslin, Yvette (March 2, 2018). "Transgender activist Andrea Jenkins makes history in Minneapolis City Council". Rolling Out. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  21. ^ Brown, Michelle E. (November 16, 2017). "Her T is Not Silent: Andrea Jenkins Makes History". PrideSource. Archived from the original on April 10, 2018. Retrieved December 3, 2018.

External links[edit]