Alexandra Chandler was a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst when she came out as a transgender woman in 2006. She could have been fired, but instead she said the conservative Republicans in her chain of command promoted her to division chief. A decade later, that kind of acceptance was overshadowed by what Chandler called the hate and divisive language of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, prompting her to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.“The real simplistic answer to why I’m running: It’s to answer a call. It’s to a answer a call to service like I did after 9/11,” said Chandler, one of more than a dozen Democrats seeking the nomination in the third district of Massachusetts. In his first year in office, President Trump has weakened LGBT protections in employment, schools and housing and has appointed officials and judges seen as hostile to LGBT rights. Chandler is among an estimated 40 transgender candidates running for all levels of government in the November 2018 elections, an unprecedented number. Many of the candidates will have the backing of advocacy groups such as Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization in the United States.HRC’s $26 million commitment to the elections, nearly as much as it spent in the 2012 and 2016 campaigns combined, is part of a push to regain momentum after Trump became president and Republicans kept control of Congress. The White House and the Republican National Committee did not respond to requests for comment on the LGBT advocates’ strategy. While gays and lesbians have been elected for decades, openly transgender candidates are rarer, making it remarkable last year when eight won elective office, the most recorded in the United States. In addition to those who have declared their candidacies this year, nearly as many parents of transgender children are also running, said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the leading trans advocacy group. HRC has created a database of 52 million pro-LGBT voters who can be deployed to get out the vote for candidates who support LGBT rights. Published in Daily Times, February 9th2018.