Silverton elects nation's first transgender mayor

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Silverton Mayor Stu Rasmussen

By Associated Press

SILVERTON, Ore. (AP) _ Plenty of politicians reinvent themselves. But none quite like Mayor-elect Stu Rasmussen.

Rasmussen, 60, has been a fixture in Silverton politics for more than 20 years, and had twice before been the mayor of this small city 45 miles south of Portland. Those terms, however, were before the breast implants and before the once-discreet crossdresser started wearing dresses and 3-inch high heels in public.

In a week when America loudly chose its first African-American president, Silverton quietly made Rasmussen the country's first openly transgender mayor, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that works to help openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people win elected office.

Rasmussen unseated incumbent mayor Ken Hector, with whom he had long clashed — 1,988 votes to 1,512. Because Rasmussen's appearance is no secret, it was policy issues that dominated the campaign.

"I've blackmail proofed myself," Rasmussen said.

The story of Rasmussen's election was first reported by JustOut, a bimonthly publication for Portland's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

"Stu never sought this recognition out," said Stephen Marc Beaudoin, the reporter who broke the story. "He's interested in doing a great job for the community that he loves. The gender identity thing is just a total backseat thing."

That comes across when Rasmussen speaks in his decidedly masculine voice. Though he dresses more like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Rasmussen describes himself with a word assigned to Todd Palin.

"I am a dude," he said. "I am a heterosexual male who appears to be a female."

His longtime live-in girlfriend, Victoria Sage, told The Oregonian newspaper that she and Rasmussen have been an item for almost 35 years.

"I heard a quote, and I don't know who said it but I think it's fabulous, that Silverton is a place where Mennonites and transvestites can get along," she said.

The quote rang true when two cowboys came across the new mayor on a downtown sidewalk. "Good job, Stu," one of them said to the man wearing a leather skirt and maroon stockings.

"Congratulations, Mr. Mayor," called the other.

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