LOS ANGELES — A drag queen, an ordained minister, a Silver Lake Neighborhood Council woman and a U.S. congressional candidate.
Maebe A. Girl became the first trans nonbinary person to advance to a general election for a House seat, securing 12.8% of the vote in the crowded race to represent California’s 30th District.
While gay and trans people are at the heart of the political discourse this year — with state lawmakers introducing a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills in 2022 — there are still very few LGBTQ people in elected office. Girl is almost certainly going to lose in November, but she is one of a historic number of LGBTQ candidates running for office this year. She is facing off with a major power player in the Democratic party — and doing so in drag.
But when it comes to her political ideologies, Girl says she doesn’t want to be pigeonholed.
“I know people have varying ideas about identity politics,” Girl said. “And the thing is, I’m not running to be a drag queen in Congress. I’m not running to be the trans person in Congress. But they do happen to be parts of myself that I will bring with me, and that I do think should be known within this process.”
She understands the tabloid element of her unlikely profession and even uses it as a tool to promote her campaign. Girl is the host and producer of a weekly Sunday drag brunch and also performs in at least a few shows a week, introducing herself to the new faces in the crowd and sharing about her platform.
Girl doesn’t want her role as a drag queen to overshadow her identity as a trans person.
“Drag is what I do, trans is who I am,” Girl said, adding that she chose to run for office in drag because it was how she was known in the community.
Girl is a 10-year resident of the district, which includes West Hollywood, Glendale, Burbank and her neighborhood of Silver Lake. The boundaries hold a diverse area and constituency.
The nonconformity of the district, Girl says, makes it even more apt that she is running to represent them — a person who doesn’t conform, representing a constituency that can’t necessarily be defined as one thing.
In keeping with the theme of firsts, November will be the first time Rep. Adam Schiff will face off with a Democratic challenger in his 11-terms holding the seat. California’s top-two primary system allows the top two vote getters to advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.
Girl recognized her run is an “uphill battle,” taking on a successful incumbent with more money and connections, and the experience of incumbency.
Schiff handedly won the June primary with about 63% of the vote. The congressman is a chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and was tapped by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be the lead manager of the 2019 impeachment inquiry against former President Trump.
He remains popular among Democrats as he is serving on a second impeachment trial as a member of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
Despite his prominence, longevity and favorability, Girl believes Schiff to be a “moderate and a centrist” and said his representation “serves to the status quo.”
“You have to ask yourself, if the district is not getting better with your representative, why do we continue with the same leadership?” she said.
A Schiff campaign spokesperson told Spectrum News 1 in an email:
“Adam doesn’t take any election for granted, and has been speaking directly with voters about the issues that matter most: attacking inflation, expanding affordable housing, securing universal health care, combatting the climate crisis, protecting Roe, and creating an economy that works for everyone. His progressive record is unimpeachable — he’s a proud and public supporter of Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. Nobody worked harder to hold Trump accountable or is doing more to protect our democracy.”
Girl is campaigning on an intersectional humanitarian platform, advocating for universal health care, housing and education for all, environmental and racial justice, LGBTQ rights and reproductive rights, among others. The common denominator, she says, is looking out for marginalized communities.
This isn’t her first bid for Schiff’s seat. In 2020, Girl came in third by less than 1%, falling to Republican Eric Early by a narrow margin of 1,116 votes.
But this year, Girl secured the coveted spot on the November ballot, despite being vastly outspent by her incumbent rival.
In the days leading up to the general election, Girl is on the ground in a last-minute canvassing push, knocking on doors, leaving door hangers, performing in drag shows, making phone calls and reaching out to voters who are new to the district.
But win or lose, election week will be an emotional one for Girl.
“I actually have a wedding scheduled for the weekend after the election. One of my good friends is getting married, and they asked me to marry them, and I couldn’t say no,” she said.