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Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe is the subject of the documentary, "A Run for More."

When we think about elections, so many of us focus on presidential elections and forget about congressional, statewide or even smaller, local elections. The documentary film, “A Run for More,” focuses on Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe as she runs for one of those local positions—city council member in San Antonio, Texas. Focusing on Gonzales-Wolfe as the first openly transgender woman to run for such office, the film shows how the campaign gave Gonzales-Wolfe a deeper sense of self. I was lucky enough to chat with her and the film’s director, Ray Whitehouse, about their friendship, the campaign, making the film and Frankie’s future political plans.


The pair met in 2016 when Whitehouse was working on a project about political campaign volunteers. At the time, Gonzales-Wolfe was working as a volunteer on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. She has worked on dozens of campaigns over the years—her first was Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996 while still in high school.

“The film [“A Run for More”] really came from the relationship we built in 2016,” Whitehouse explained. “I came to Frankie with this idea about exploring ideas around who was qualified to run for office, who is not qualified and what are the lived experiences that fit into those categories.”

A Run for More - Trailer

A Run for More - Trailer from Ray Whitehouse on Vimeo.

In 2018, after growing tired of politicians using diversity and inclusion as a running platform but not an actual practice, Gonzales-Wolfe decided that she was going to run for city council. Of course, Whitehouse suggested filming the whole experience and turning it into a feature-length documentary. For Gonzales-Wolfe, allowing the process to be filmed would allow it to stand as a living document and testament to what it’s like to run for political office when you’re trans, especially in a place that is traditionally conservative, like Texas.

“The kind of conversation I wanted to generate was this kind of conversation around the two worlds that Frankie had to navigate: one world was sort of like 'hey I’m just Frankie and I'm running for office,' she didn’t necessarily get taken very seriously. But then when she tried to foreground her identity as a trans woman trying to do this groundbreaking thing, then you get into the flipside. By highlighting her visibility, the unfortunate reality is that’s what leads to attacks,” Whitehouse said.

The National League of Cities describes city council members as “legislators of a municipality who are democratically elected to decide which services will be provided and how to pay for them, among many other tasks.” Because of the nature of the work, the position is elected, but is nonpartisan, meaning you don’t have to be affiliated with a particular political party to run. Council members serve their most local constituents on local matters, which means they’re serving a diverse group of people with equally diverse needs and interests.

A native Texan, you can see that Gonzales-Wolfe really cares for the people where she’s from and believes that she can have a hand in creating a better place for her neighbors and herself. Much of her platform revolves around local changes she can make, like protecting small businesses and giving them space in the local airport. She’s also a caring and loving wife and daughter—you see a lot of her time at home with her husband Jeff. “A Run for More” gives you a look at how a regular person can make a difference. But also, it reveals that politics can teach you a lot, especially about yourself.

“For me, it wasn’t so much of a balance as it was telling Ray, 'if we’re going to do a documentary and you’re going to be shooting about me, about my life, what it is to be a trans woman—a trans person in Texas, you have to be all in,' which means you’re going to see me at my worst, my best, stressed, not wearing makeup. I wanted to be able to capture the true sentiment of ‘I’m not different than anyone else’ when it comes to family,'” Gonzales-Wolfe told me.

“A Run for More” is not without its heavy moments. During one scene near the middle of the film, Gonzales-Wolfe tells the story of her sexual assault in striking detail. It’s not in the film for shock value—it shows her resilience, and how it takes time to get to a point where it doesn’t define her.

“That situation didn’t define who I am as a woman, even though those men wanted to make it a point to let me know it would define me as a woman,” she shared.

a run for more, trans woman, politics

Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe and her volunteers were very busy on the campaign trail.

A Run for More

In another scene, she and her volunteers are tasked with door-to-door canvassing. While a typical part of campaigning, it’s not without its own challenges. But this particular moment will highlight something many of us don’t think about. The campaign consultant she’s working with (who is a successful advisor and friend) has them working from a list of exclusively Republican and conservative constituents. It’s a nonpartisan race—Gonzales-Wolfe and her team are well aware that they have to appeal to voters on both sides of the political table.

We see her walking up to doors and knocking…most doors don’t even open. A few do and take a flier. But then there’s one house where the resident is clearly one of the angry Republican types we have seen on television. He berates Gonzales-Wolfe for only listening to CNN and other “left wing” news and not watching Fox News or listening to the other side. She calmly assures him that she is listening and will fight for everyone. When the door closes, she is clearly rattled by the interaction and makes the decision that the team will switch to phone banking the rest of the list.

Later that same day, a visibly upset Gonzales-Wolfe tells her team about a phone call she has just ended. During the call, the voter she was speaking with calls her a “f***ing tranny,” which understandably upsets and enrages her. Talking to her campaign consultant later (who is upset that the team deviated from the plan of in-person canvassing) she relays the conversations again, still very upset by the interactions.

Sending a trans person into interactions like that can have multiple outcomes. It could be the ones that Gonzales-Wolfe encountered, where people just said things that were unkind or spoke in a tone that was rattling. But things could have escalated to violence, especially during the in-person interaction. By canvassing in person, she was opening herself up to physical violence. You never know what’s in a person’s mind. There are multiple scenes in the film where we see Gonzales-Wolfe and her team repairing campaign signage around town that was torn down because she is trans.

a run for more, trans women, activists

Frankie meets with local trans activists.

A Run for More

The most positive moments in the film come from her interactions with other trans people. She touches on it in the film, but it’s clear that connecting with her transness has been challenging to her in her transition. Running for office forced her to interact with local transgender activists in her community to truly understand what trans people in Texas are fighting for. As a result, it deepened her understanding and connection to the local community and to herself.

“I’m embarrassed right now,” Gonzales-Wolfe tells her husband at home after a trans lobby day. “For the past 20 plus years, I’ve stayed away from…I’ve never been an activist. I’ve been in politics, but I’ve never been an activist within the LGBTQIA community—especially on trans issues. I can’t lie about it.”

Ultimately, Gonzales-Wolfe lost the election, coming in third. Of course the loss was disappointing, but not discouraging. Currently, she is working as the chief of staff for the county commissioner, but she’s absolutely not ruling out another run for office in the future.

“Now is not the time, I believe I will be given a sign when the time comes,” Gonzales-Wolfe said. “But yeah, I do see myself running again, but I don’t see myself running in a nonpartisan race. It’s not local government that has written laws against me or shun who I am as an individual. It has been people at the state level and I feel that is where I’ll best be able to use my skill set as a voice for the voiceless.”

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Why The Weather Channel is providing 9 hours of election counter-programming.

As your heartbeat ticks upward watching cable news, as you jolt awake at 2 a.m. from a Nov. 9 nightmare, and as you chew your fingernails to the bone watching volatile election forecasts every hour on the hour, please know: You're definitely not alone.

The Weather Channel is taking election anxiety seriously this year by doing something pretty cool on Nov. 8, 2016.

More than half of us — Democrats and Republicans alike — say that stress over the presidential election this year has been “very or somewhat significant," according to a study by the American Psychological Association. Experts in the mental health field have reported increases in election-related anxiety in their patients.  

“More than one client of mine has talked of physical nausea that they relate directly to current political happenings,” Melissa Lester Olson, a psychotherapist in Georgia, told Time, noting women have been particularly affected.


Starting at 3 p.m. Eastern time and lasting all the way to midnight, The Weather Channel will broadcast nothing but calming, tranquil scenery (with zero election interruptions) to "set your soul at ease."

Image via iStock.

So, after you cast your vote, you can sit back, relax, and tune in.

"This election year, American citizens have endured wall to wall breathless tension from our colleagues in the news media," TWC explained, "and our forecast calls for a 100% chance that will continue through election day."

Image via iStock.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we all had a place to escape?"

Image via iStock.

Absolutely, Weather Channel — absolutely.

According to TWC, viewers can expect to see scenes of "autumn splendor."

Yes, please.

Image via iStock.

Also, rainbows.

*sighs*

Image via iStock.

And big, puffy clouds in warm, colorful skies.

A good reminder that no matter what happens on Nov. 8, the world will go on. And we're all going to have to work together to be OK.

We're all going to be OK. (Right?)

Image via iStock.

TWC will also be playing smooth jazz for your listening pleasure.

Which, while it might not be your usual jam, after over a year of election coverage sounds nothing short of marvelous, right?

Image via iStock.

But if you're still reeling with anxiety on Tuesday — even with TWC playing softly in the background — don't fret.

There are other helpful ways you can manage your election stress.

Image via iStock.

You can, for instance, write down your election fears and address them, one by one. That may sound scary, but it will help.

Often when we work ourselves into a panic over who will win on Nov. 8, our minds spiral into a frenzy of "what-ifs" and worst-case scenarios.

It might sound silly, but one way to address this is to actually list out all of our fears.Why am I stressed about the prospects of a President [...]?

Then, think about each one.Is it truly possible that this fear could become a reality? If so, how can I make concrete plans to address this change in my own life?

As The Los Angeles Times reported, you may find that some of your worst fears are unfounded. Even if they are totally founded, thinking about how you can be proactive in addressing them can only help.

Image via iStock.

Elections can be brutal on our mental health. But the best way to not feel helpless is to do something about it and vote.

This election cycle hasn't been a normal one — particularly because many marginalized groups have been mocked, mistreated, and discussed like second-class citizens along the way. (It's no wonder why women, more than men, are viewing this election differently than past years.)

But the election is finally here, and you've made it. We've made it. All there is left to do now is make your voice heard at the ballot box.

Once you have, well, then there's The Weather Channel.

America may very soon have a female president for the first time. And the historical significance of that hasn't been lost on women like Vickie Wilkinson.

Wilkinson, a 60-year-old former teacher who lives in Montana, recently cast her vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — the first woman to be nominated for president by a major political party — and it was a day she won't soon forget.

"I got to vote for a woman for president," Wilkinson says through laughs and tears in the video captured by her daughter, Sarah Dean, who shared it online. "We finally made it."


The video quickly went viral, garnering millions of views across various social media platforms overnight. Although it's easy to understand why the video took off, Wilkinson's emotional experience isn't unique this election cycle — many woman know exactly how she felt in that moment.

Women across America have been itching for the chance to vote someone into the country's highest office who looks like them.

They've been itching a long time.

Older women in particular are feeling especially moved by their ballots this year.

(Of course, many women aren't supporting Clinton, but the gender divide is especially stark this year.)

Some of these voters were born before women even had the right to vote.

"It feels very wonderful," this 101-year-old noted of the experience, proudly sporting a patriotic sticker.

"This election means that women can achieve anything," 102-year-old Katherine Blood Hoffman of Florida said while waving her American flag.

Understandably, getting to cast a ballot for the first female presidential candidate who has a chance at winning is a big deal.

After 44 men in a row, 2016 seems like a great year to buck the trend.

But the fact that Clinton is a woman isn't the only reason these women are excited to vote for her.

They're not voting for her just because she's a woman — she's a woman who also represents them, their values, and their vision for the future. Wilkinson, for example, supports Clinton's plans to take on gun violence, address children's issues, and fight for gender equality in the workplace.

“I think that women do have a particular viewpoint to bring into the arena,” she said.

But we also shouldn't dismiss the fact that Clinton simply being a woman in and of itself makes a difference. Acknowledging the importance of Clinton's gender isn't playing the "woman card," as some like to put it — it's celebrating another momentous step forward for our country.

Take a look at 98-year-old Emily, who can't contain that smile.

Or 98-year-old Estelle, who looks over the moon holding her absentee ballot.

These women, more than anyone else, have every reason to feel great about helping make history.

Wilkinson says she's been stunned by the overwhelmingly positive reactions she's gotten to the video after it spread across social media.

“The wonderful things that people have said have reinforced that I’m not the only person that feels this way," she says, noting the barrage of kind messages from both friends and complete strangers who had similar experiences casting their ballots.

Photo via Sarah Dean, used with permission.

Beyond what a woman in the White House means to her personally, Wilkinson understands the crucial message seeing a female president will send to young people.

“It was equally as awesome to vote for a black man for president,” she says. “But I’m a woman, and I have a beautiful daughter, and a wonderful step-daughter, and granddaughters — I’m so excited for them because they don’t have to look at the world the same way I did.”

Photo via Sarah Dean, used with permission.

“I’m listening to my 12-year-old granddaughter now, and she’s very thrilled that this old-fashioned view of, ‘Oh, well only boys can do this’ is now gone," she says.

"'Girls can do this too. I can do this, grandma.'"

U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia knows more than most about the importance of voting.

Which is why on Nov. 3, 2016, he tweeted this photo:

Throughout his life and his work, Lewis has fought for our democracy — and for his right to vote.

The 15th Amendment granted African-Americans the right to vote in 1870. In many areas, however, it was too difficult and dangerous for black citizens to exercise that right. In many states, voting while black meant risking your life.


The civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s led to the eventual passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed racial discrimination in voting and expanded protection for black voters.

Lewis helped make all of that happen.

Lewis (left) with Whitney Young, Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, and Roy Wilkins in 1963. Photo via AFP/Getty Images.

A prominent civil rights leader, Lewis marched side by side with Martin Luther King Jr. in the '60s.

Lewis is considered one of the "big six" leaders of the movement. In his 20s, he helped organize nonviolent sit-ins at segregated lunch counters. He was instrumental in organizing the March on Washington and was the youngest speaker there.

President Obama counts Lewis among his personal heroes and had this to say about him on the the 50th anniversary of the march on Selma, Alabama (emphasis mine):

"[America is] boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit. That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe age of 25 could lead a mighty march. And that’s what the young people here today and listening all across the country must take away from this day. You are America. Unconstrained by habits and convention. Unencumbered by what is, and ready to seize what ought to be. "

Obama awarding Lewis the Medal of Freedom in 2010. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

You probably don't need to be reminded of what's at stake in the 2016 election, but...

It's good to be reminded not to take democracy — and our right to vote — for granted.

There are people alive today, like John Lewis, who vividly remember a time when they couldn't safely exercise their right to vote. There are women alive today who remember not having that right at all.

Voting is as much your individual participation in democracy as it is a tribute to those who have been arrested, beaten, bloodied, and killed fighting to ensure you have that right.

The voting rights march of 1965. William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images

Whatever your politics, you should be proud to cast a ballot on Election Day. And when you do, try to remember those who came before you. Remembering their hard work and sacrifice is an important part of ushering in a brighter future.