Mel Wymore has been a member of Community Board 7 on New York’s Upper West Side for over a decade.But for most of that time, he served as a woman. It was only about a month before stepping into his role as board chair that he decided he wanted to live as a man.
“I knew that I was going to be changing very overtly in front of everybody when I was elected, so on my very first meeting as chair, I announced to the community board that I would be transitioning and that they could expect changes,” Wymore tells The New York Observer. “At the time, I said I would maintain the female pronoun until I announced otherwise and that if anyone had questions please don’t be afraid to ask me directly.”
With his term on the Community Board over, Wymore has begun a campaign for a seat on the New York City Council (elections are in 2013). Though Christine Quinn, an out lesbian, is currently City Council Speaker Wymore would be the Empire State’s first transgender elected official if his gambit was successful.
“Look, I’m the qualified candidate here, but I happen to be transgender,” Wymore tells The Observer. “I do realize, however, that I’m an exemplar of a certain kind of difference that’s in a very small minority, so recognizing that, I have a particular responsibility and a voice to speak about difference and inclusion.”
In his previous life, Wymore was married to a man and had two children. He lived as a lesbian single mom for a number of years before attending a seminar on gender at his children’s high school that reawakened feelings he had felt for much of his early life. “For me, it was like a bird out of a cage—just complete freedom and joy…”
Does he think being trans will hurt him in the voting booth, even in a progressive city like New York? I don’t expect a lot of discrimination,” Wymore says. “But if it’s there, I’m happy to face it head on.”
Spoken like a true New Yorker.
Image via Mel Wymore