'You Care About Us, and That Makes Me Proud'.

AuthorMoore, Andy
PositionMadison, Wisconsin council member Dina Nina Martinez-Rutherford

Dina Nina Martinez-Rutherford was declared in early April the winner of the race for alder of Madison's Fifteenth District, making her the first openly trans woman ever elected to public office in Wisconsin's history.

Martinez-Rutherford ran on a platform of affordable housing, improving neighborhood infrastructure, and social justice issues. She brings a commitment to LGBTQ+ representation and the rights of the underserved.

Away from her new political career, she is also a comedian and the owner of the award-winning Lady Laughs Comedy production company We spoke by telephone for WORT-FM Community Radio's 8 O'clock Buzz after she won the April 4 election. Excerpts follow.

Q: I spoke to you the morning after the election. You said you were still swirling in emotions. How are things now? Settling down a little bit?

Dina Nina Martinez-Rutherford: Slightly. It's quite a whirlwind, let me tell you, but man, kind of exciting.

Q: When you were a child, and even as a young adult, did you ever think that you would get into electoral politics?

Martinez-Rutherford: No, not at all. I think it was really when I was well into my adulthood, and really after transitioning and becoming more [politically] savvy and looking at the world around me and how it related to me. And I've thought about it, but I'm a comedian, so I was kind of nervous about...

Q: A vote count?

Martinez-Rutherford: And governing.

Q: When people become "first," in your case, the first out trans elected official in Wisconsin, the nature of the first tends to sometimes overshadow all the other things about them. That's why I wanted to name some of your platform [issues] in your introduction. What does it mean to you and the rest of us that we have elected a trans woman to the city council?

Martinez-Rutherford: Well, it says we're pretty darn awesome. It's so important at a time when there's so much hate and division and attacking of transgender people and especially children. What it says to me about Madison is that you care about us, and that makes me so proud to be a part of the city, and even prouder to serve the city.

Q: You mentioned your childhood and a reckoning with your own eyes, looking around and seeing a world that needed to be changed. On your website, you say you began to explore your gender in your twenties, within the drag community in your native Texas. What was that like?

Martinez-Rutherford: I was very steeped in evangelism and all that means, so I had a couple of years...

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