School Board Official Becomes First Openly Transgender Person Elected in Maine
The 31-year-old Geo Neptune says they were encouraged to run for office by kids in their after-school art class
An artist and educator in Maine last week made history as the state's first openly transgender person to be elected to office, advocates say.
Geo Neptune, 31, was voted Wednesday night to the Indian Township school board, according to a social media announcement by local transgender support organization MaineTransNet.
Neptune, who uses they/them pronouns, is a member of the Passamaquoddy tribe and is Two-Spirit. They told Maine Public Radio that Two-Spirt is "an intersectional identity that was and is found within Indigenous cultures all across Turtle Island [North America]."
Neptune told the outlet they “feel very lucky that I live in a place where my community accepts me because a lot of trans people don't have that."
They will be sworn into office on Oct. 1 to begin a four-year term.
Speaking with PEOPLE, Neptune says their community elected them to the school board "because of my dedication to our history, culture and language."
"As people who have had all of those things actively removed from our communities, it's important for us to not only retain what we have but bring back the things that we have lost," Neptune says. "If there is one thing I hope to accomplish in my four-year term, it's to keep the momentum going in these areas."
Neptune says they were encouraged to run for office by kids in the local after-school art class that they teach.
"Our culture and language teachers need more resources and support, and our children and school staff need more access to our language, our stories, and our ceremonial practices," they say. "This is the perspective and energy I will bring as a school board member, and will work with the rest of the committee to shape and maintain and environment where Passamquoddy students can flourish and thrive."
Neptune received 155 votes and they are one of three new officials elected to the local office, according to MaineTransNet.
“We expect these electoral victories to happen in Portland," MaineTransNet Executive Director Quinn Gormley told Maine Public Radio, referring to the state's largest city, "but often small communities are more willing to embrace whole identities.”