Phillipe Cunningham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Phillipe Cunningham
Phillipe Cunningham, Minneapolis City Council Member (cropped).jpg
Member of the Minneapolis City Council from the 4th Ward
Assumed office
January 8, 2018
Preceded byBarb Johnson[1]
Personal details
Born (1987-07-07) July 7, 1987 (age 32)
Streator, Illinois
Political partyDemocratic
Lane Cunningham (m. 2015)
Alma materDePaul University (BA)

Phillipe Cunningham (born July 7, 1987) is the city councilperson for Minneapolis Ward 4 and one of the first openly transgender men to be elected to public office in the United States.[2][3][4] In the Minneapolis City Council election, 2017, Cunningham won over 20-year incumbent Barb Johnson by 157 votes.[5][6] Cunningham identifies as black, queer, and transgender.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Cunningham was born in Streator, Illinois, where he lived until he was 18.[8] His father worked as a unionized tractor mechanic/builder for more than forty years, while his mother was a dry cleaner employee; he is their only child.[9] He studied at Mills College and Southern Illinois University Carbondale before transferring to DePaul University,[8] where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese studies.[10] He transitioned during his junior year at DePaul,[8] inspired by the life and work of Lou Sullivan.[11]


Prior to his election to public office, Cunningham worked as a special education teacher in the South Side of Chicago[5] and for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. He also worked as Senior Policy Aide and Advisor for Education, Youth Success, Racial Equity, and LGBTQ Rights for the Office of the Mayor of Minneapolis.[10]

On July 10, 2015, when same-sex marriage was legalized, Cunningham married Lane Cunningham, who is an IT professional at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities .[12] They met at the Victory 44, a popular restaurant until its closing in 2017.[13]

On November 7, 2017, Cunningham became the second of three openly trans men to be elected to public office in the United States. Jay Irwin was elected to the Ralston School Board in Nebraska the year prior.[14] Tyler Titus was elected to the Erie School Board in Pennsylvania the same year as Cunningham. Cunningham and Andrea Jenkins (both on the Minneapolis City Council) are the first openly trans people of color to be elected to a city council anywhere in the United States.[2]

Ward 4 sits includes the northwest corner of Minneapolis, above Lowry Avenue and below 53rd Avenue North. Xerxes Avenue provides its western border; the Mississippi River marks the east. The City of Minneapolis Department of Community Planning & Economic Development shows that it is rich in diversity with 57 percent people of color or indigenous residents.[15]


In November 2018 Cunningham drew attention for a Twitter tweet that disparaged opponents of the "Minneapolis 2040" plan as merely seeking to protect their "bungalow neighborhoods."[16]

Cunningham is one of three Minneapolis City Council members who voted to dismantle the city's police department and afterwards started using private security for protection, out of public funds.[17]


  1. ^ "Phillippe Cunningham Wins Ward 4, Now 2 Transgender Members Of Minneapolis City Council". CBS Minnesota. November 8, 2017. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Chris Johnson (November 8, 2017). "Phillipe Cunningham makes history as Minnesota trans male candidate". Washington Blade. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  3. ^ "Phillipe Cunningham Focused On Lifting 'Everybody Up In The Community'". November 9, 2017. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  4. ^ Katelyn Burns (December 18, 2017). "Andrea Jenkins on Her Remarkable Year Making and Preserving Trans History". Broadly. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Laura Ellis (December 16, 2017). "Strange Fruit: Black Queer Bodies Are Not For White Consumption". Strange Fruit. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  6. ^ Jon Collins (November 8, 2017). "Transgender candidates win Mpls. City Council seats, make history". Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  7. ^ Belz, Adam (February 4, 2017). "Transgender candidates for Mpls. City Council seek a voice at the table". Star Tribune. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Andrea Jenkins (September 25, 2015). "Interview with Phillipe Cunningham" (PDF). The Transgender Oral History Project. Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  9. ^ Christine T. Nguyen (February 25, 2019). "ChangeMakers: Phillipe Cunningham". Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Phillipe Cunningham". LinkedIn. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  11. ^ Cai Thomas (September 22, 2016). "Phillipe Cunningham finds success and respect as a transgender man". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  12. ^ Michael Kleber-Diggs (February 23, 2017). "A Seat at the Table: Phillipe Cunningham's vision for youth and building community wealth for Ward 4". Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  13. ^ |title:Chef Erick Harcey's next restaurant: Inside an old department store on Main Street, Cambridge |cite web= Mark Reilly |publisher= Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal |accessdate= November 27, 2019}}
  14. ^ Konnath, Hailey. "Transgender Ralston school board member, a 'policy junkie,' is busy digging into details of district operations". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  15. ^ Michael Kleber-Diggs (February 23, 2017). "A Seat at the Table: Phillipe Cunningham's vision for youth and building community wealth for Ward 4". Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  16. ^ "Are Twin Cities bungalow homes an endangered species?". 2020-06-30. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  17. ^ "Minneapolis council members who voted to dismantle the police use private security". Washington Examiner. 2020-06-27. Retrieved 2020-06-27.

External links[edit]