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The Freedom to Be

A Conversation with Andrea Jenkins

Andrea Jenkins is a politician, community leader, artist, and activist. She is known for being the first African American openly transgender woman elected to public office in the U.S. Chanda and Andrea discuss the importance of owning your truth, why representation and policy matters, and the struggles of navigating systems that were built on racism.

Special thanks to Twin Cities PBS’ MN Original for letting us use the audio of “Black Pearl.”

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About Our Guest

Andrea Jenkins

Andrea Jenkins is a writer, performance artist, poet, and transgender activist. She is the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States.

Andrea moved to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota in 1979 and was hired by the Hennepin County government, where she worked for a decade. She worked as a staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years before beginning work as curator of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota’s Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.

Andrea is a nationally and internationally recognized writer and artist, a 2011 Bush Fellow to advance the work of transgender inclusion, and the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships.