Palm Springs’ Lisa Middleton to be city’s 1st transgender mayor

Palm Springs City Councilwoman Lisa Middleton will be sworn-in as mayor Thursday, making Middleton the first out transgender mayor in California and just the third out transgender mayor in U.S. history.

The city’s current mayor, Christy Holstege, also is historic. She is the city’s first female mayor and the city’s first bisexual mayor.

Palm Springs mayor is largely a ceremonial position and rotates every year among the council members. Middleton was elected to the council in 2017, and reelected in 2020.

Middleton told KESQ TV that some of her goals during her term will be to “deliver the highest quality of services to this incredible community” and “see some tangible improvements in the number of people who are unhoused” in Palm Springs.

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Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang called Middleton a “transformational trailblazer.”

Middleton – who became the the first out transgender person elected to a non-judicial position in California in 2017 – is also running for the state Senate for 2022.

Middleton will be the first out transgender state legislator in California history if she wins.

“Lisa’s elevation to mayor is not only a milestone moment for California, but also for trans people across the nation who want to make positive change through public service,” said Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “While hateful politicians attempt to vilify trans people for their own perceived political gain, Lisa.. lifts people up and focuses on issues that actually improve people’s lives.”

Only  42 out trans people serve in the country and six are in California.

No trans people currently serve as mayors, but previously, Stu Rasmussen of Silverton, Oregon, and Jess Herbst of New Hope, Texas, held mayoral positions.

Only one out trans person has ever been elected to a state senate in the U.S. – Sarah McBride of Delaware.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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