- Associated Press - Monday, April 23, 2018

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - University of Oklahoma student Traci Baker is only 20 years old, but she was recently elected as state secretary of the Libertarian Party.

Baker’s youth is remarkable on its own, but she’s also the first transgender official of any party in state history, as well as the first transgender executive of a state party in the U.S.

Baker grew up in Edmond and was interested in politics early on.

“I was inspired by the Ron Paul campaign in 2012, and that’s what got me into Libertarianism,” she said. “I was in high school when I did debate, and then I was in Youth in Government in the YMCA program. That’s also when I started doing my first campaign.”

Baker graduated from Edmond Memorial High School in 2016 and moved to Norman to attend OU.

“I came out as transgender pretty much immediately upon moving to Norman,” Baker said. “Norman has been immensely more supportive than Oklahoma at large or nationally.”

Despite the support, she also has encountered people who were hateful or ignorant toward her gender identity, the Norman Transcript reported .

“I have had to deal with some limited individuals,” Baker said. “I could count them on my two hands … It’s limited, but it does occur.”

Negativity takes its toll, but she said surrounding herself with positive people and taking breaks from the internet, where the worst stuff happens, help her keep her morale up.

“I didn’t grow up in the most supportive home environment. I’m used to being talked down to,” she said. “I also have a really great group of friends. I’m on campus a lot, and campus is pretty supportive.”

Baker has run for city council twice, both times losing to candidates with longevity in Norman.

“I learned one important thing about Norman,” Baker said. “Norman rewards loyalty and people who stick around and make contributions to their community.”

She said voters recognize candidates who are willing to be a part of the community and contribute long term. Even though she has yet to win an election, Baker said the local elections were a great classroom.

“I learned about Norman’s municipal code and things that people were worried about, and I learned about economics,” Baker said. “It was a very educational experience, and though I didn’t win either time, I like to learn.”

With federal, state and county filings coming up, Baker has been busy with party responsibilities.

“We’ve got three great candidates for governor and a candidate for state auditor, which Democrats don’t have. So, that’s pretty cool,” she said. “We have some candidates for House and Senate seats, as well as a few running for Congress.”

As secretary, she keeps the records and minutes. She also oversees social media and will issue press releases.

“I will continue to be the candidate liaison for the party,” Baker said. “I equip them with the resources that they need to run and interact with them to make sure they know how to file for office.”

She also works with candidates on campaign finance ethics and filing regulations and other knowledge they need to know while running for office.

Baker said she’s using her experience as a candidate and from working on other national campaigns to help other Libertarians running for office.

“I was a state executive for the ‘Gary Johnson for President’ campaign,” she said. “Before that, I was delegate outreach for the John McAfee campaign.”

Baker is working on a double major in political science and letters.


Information from: The Norman Transcript, http://www.normantranscript.com

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