Olivia Hill is the first openly transgender person ever elected to Nashville’s Metro Council. She’s also the first transgender woman elected in Tennessee history, according to LGBTQ+ Victory Fund.
Hill secured one of the Council’s five at-large seats in Thursday’s runoff election with 12.9% of the vote. She joins a historic number of women elected to the Council. All five at-large members will be women, as well as 17 district councilmembers. That adds up to 22 women — a majority of the 40-member council.
“I want to say that I am elated,” Hill told The Tennessean after the historic win.
“For every trans kid in the state of Tennessee that has felt discomfort or that they didn’t belong…” Hill said. “We are valid. We are who we say we are. And we are going to move forward.”
Election results:See vote totals from Thursday’s runoff election
Even before her election, Hill’s campaign alone was historic: She was the first openly trans woman to have her name on a Tennessee ballot, according to a July 2023 interview with the Nashville Post.
A Nashville native, Hill graduated from Hillwood High School in 1983. She then served in the U.S. Navy from 1986-1995 and saw combat overseas during Desert Storm.
After her time in the military, Hill worked for 26 years at the Vanderbilt University Power Plant and retired as the plant’s senior supervisor in December 2021.
Hill, now 57, underwent her gender transition while working for Vanderbilt. She said she faced continuous and egregious workplace discrimination around the time of her transition, leading her to sue the university in September 2021, shortly before her retirement. Hill and Vanderbilt reached a settlement three months later.
Hill has been an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community in recent years, receiving the Chancellor’s Heart and Soul award from Vanderbilt University in 2019. The university’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Life named Hill one of three LGBTQ Advocates of the Year in 2020.
“I’m ready to get to work and to fix the broken parts of Nashville,” Hill said. Her priorities for the upcoming council term include improving infrastructure, utilities and public transportation.
She said city leaders have a duty to citizens to “listen more and talk less.”
“We have become a tourist hotspot but it is time to refocus on those of us who call this city home,” Hill said.
Reporter Molly Davis contributed to this story.