October 20, 2020 at 8:00 pm EDT | by Parker Purifoy
Transgender woman running against anti-LGBTQ Md. congressman
Mia Mason (Photo courtesy of the Mason campaign)

Mia Mason is vying to join Maryland’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives in a bid that could make her the first transgender person ever elected to Congress. 

She is running against incumbent Republican Andy Harris in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District — which includes the Eastern Shore and portions of northern Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties — that leaned heavily to the right in 2016, with 60 percent of voters casting ballots for President Trump. Despite this, Mason said she is hopeful she will pull out a victory on Nov. 3.

Born in Virginia, Mason joined the U.S. Navy in 1998 and went on to have a military career involving one tour in Afghanistan and two in Iraq. In 2014 she said she was going through a routine medical screening when her superiors discovered she is trans by looking at her Veterans Affairs paperwork. She was discharged by November, she said, but soon after President Obama announced that trans people could serve in the military. 

“I spent my entire Christmas break calling my attorneys to get back in,” she said in an interview with the Washington Blade. It took her until 2016 to be fully accepted back into the military as a part of the D.C. National Guard. 

Then in 2017, Trump tweeted that he would not allow trans people to serve in the military and Mason said she knew she needed to turn to advocacy and politics. 

“When I was fighting to get back into the military I went through some really tough times. I lost a lot,” she said. “And with Trump’s tweet, that was going to be happening to thousands of people. His simple tweet could basically take out at least 10,000 service members including their family members who rely on their medical benefits.”

Harris is the only Republican member of Maryland’s Congressional delegation. The Human Rights Campaign labeled him as one of the most “anti-equality” House members, saying he has “gone out of his way” to support anti-LGBTQ legislation. In 2020, the HRC gave him a 0 out of 100 rating on their congressional scorecard. He has also voted in line with Trump’s position in 92 percent of House votes through his career, making him one of the president’s most loyal members in Congress.

Mason said her biggest priorities coming into the federal government would be to push through the Equal Rights Amendment, which has hung in limbo for decades, and establish “Medicare for All.” But before those, Mason said she would work to provide financial relief for the people in her district who are struggling with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“When we call people asking for donations, they’re often asking us for food and we know that we won’t be able to provide that relief package for them until at least six months after we’re sworn in,” she said. “So it’s about making that promise and making sure we’re holding ourselves accountable to them.”

Despite her district being predominantly conservative, Mason said they’re pushing a message of hope and compassion to the constituents. 

“We’re trying to hone in on the message that we’re trying to help them,” she said. “We want to help you with your education. We want to help you find a job. We want to help your small business and we want to see you succeed. I’m running for Congress so that we can continue to support you from the federal government.”

Mason said she “never expected to be the first of something” in her life.

“I can’t wait to be able to serve everyone and go into Congress and plant my pride flag and my trans flag in there,” she said. “I have this opportunity to demonstrate that running for Congress is something that’s earned. I don’t necessarily need to have the label of being first but I’m proud to represent my community.”

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