Transgender candidate looking to make history for 54th district State senate seat

Local Politics

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Here’s a candidate you probably haven’t met before — Shauna O’Toole. She is running for office, and if she wins, she’ll be the first transgender New York state senator.

The former Kodak employee says she’s excited to campaign and meet the people she hopes to represent.

O’Toole’s life has been a series of transitions, and things are a lot different for her now than they were in the 90’s.

“I was a technician and engineer at Eastman Kodak for 13 years,” O’Toole said.

Before that, she was a high school earth science teacher. She says life hasn’t always been easy.

“I really didn’t accept that I had to deal with this until I was 45. I knew who I was at age four or five, so that’s four decades of inner turmoil and I was 50 when I finally transitioned and started living authentically,” said O’Toole. “I look in the mirror and I smile because the reflection matches who I am — and that’s everything.”

Now, O’Toole is running as a Democratic candidate for the 54th district — which encompasses six counties including Monroe, Ontario, Wayne and Seneca Counties. She’s running against Republican incumbent Pamela Helming.

O’Toole’s platform is supporting New York’s farmers, and putting an emphasis on trade skills.

“With education, it’s not so much getting kids ready for college. There are some great programs for that, but not every kid wants to go to college,” said O’Toole. “There are a large number of kids who want to become welders, carpenters, chefs, electricians,” said O’Toole.

She says she recognizes it’ll be a long road ahead, and she’s prepared for it.

“I know there will be a lot of hate, I know never to read the comments,” said O’Toole.

She believes what she’s doing will make a difference — win or lose.

The Webster Democratic Committee has already endorsed O’Toole and she’s now working to get individual committees across the six counties to support her.

Elections will take place alongside the presidential election in November.

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