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A transgender legislator from Minnesota who was only elected three months ago has been named the state’s ‘Woman of the Year’ honoree by USA Today. 

Leigh Finke, a former academic, journalist and author, was voted into her heavily left-leaning district in the Twin Cities metro area last November with 81 percent of the ballot. 

She was honored alongside several others – transgender assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine was one last year – including former First Lady Michelle Obama and the United States women’s soccer team.

Finke is the first transgender legislator to be elected in the state, which is part of why the paper chose to honor her. Finke transitioned in 2017. 

While the state’s Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan praised the award, some were less than thrilled, including former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. 

Leigh Finke, a former academic, journalist and author, was voted into her heavily left-leaning district in the Twin Cities metro area last November with 81 percent of the ballot. She was honored alongside several others as USA Today's Woman of the Year

Leigh Finke, a former academic, journalist and author, was voted into her heavily left-leaning district in the Twin Cities metro area last November with 81 percent of the ballot. She was honored alongside several others as USA Today’s Woman of the Year

Speaking on Fox News‘ Outnumbered the ex-press secretary was baffled by the choice, wondering ‘What will ever be left for biological females?’

Fellow commentator Emily Compagno said that Finke’s inclusion was pure identity politics at the cost of hard-working women everywhere.

‘It is so exhausting, in my opinion, to have immutable characteristics or box-checking characteristics be the reason that someone is amplified to that level,’ Compagno said. 

Fox commentator Guy Benson said he had no problem with honoring a transgender woman, but noted that she had only served three months in office.

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‘President Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing, and it’s because people wanted to make a political statement. That’s what this is,’ he said. 

Benson also said: ‘This is not about actual achievement or accomplishment, it seems, as this individual seems to admit. This is about, ‘there’s a culture war, there’s a big controversy around trans issues, so let’s find some and put them on these lists to make a statement.’ 

Citing former First Lady Obama’s inclusion, McEnany asked ‘What does it take for a conservative woman to get on a list like this?’ 

Other liberals picked for the list include new Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Finke is the first transgender legislator to be elected in the state, which is part of why the paper chose to honor her. Finke transitioned in 2017.

Finke is the first transgender legislator to be elected in the state, which is part of why the paper chose to honor her. Finke transitioned in 2017.

Former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, speaking on Fox News' Outnumbered the ex-press secretary was baffled by the choice, wondering 'What will ever be left for biological females?'

Former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, speaking on Fox News’ Outnumbered the ex-press secretary was baffled by the choice, wondering ‘What will ever be left for biological females?’

Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama was one of the honorees for the award

Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama was one of the honorees for the award

The entire United States women's soccer team was also celebrated

The entire United States women’s soccer team was also celebrated

The entirety of the new United States House of Representatives, which elected a record number of women, was also honored.

Finke even acknowledged how recently she had ascended in politics in a tweet commenting on the award over the weekend.

‘As an elected, I recognize that I just got here. The faith that has been put in my by my district, by the queer community, and by my colleagues at the capitol has been life-giving. I’ve only begun to fathom how much my life has changed, for the better, over the past year.’ 

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Sarah Fields, an elected delegate in Texas and head of the pro-family group Texas Freedom Coalition, slammed the decision and refused to identify her as a woman in a tweet.

‘Meet Leigh Finke, a transgender legislator in Minnesota,’ she wrote. ‘HE is one of USA TODAY’s ‘Women of the Year.’So many wonderful women truly deserve this kind of recognition. #USAToday can shove their contempt towards real women where the sun doesn’t shine.’ 

Another tried to reason with Finke, tweeting: ‘If you had any honor, you’d decline. You identify who you are to be comfortable in your own skin and pursue happiness as such, not for attention. This denies a biological female that achieved success with the challenges biological females have.’

One other took aim at USA Today, writing: ‘I wonder what woman was passed over just so @USATODAY could virtue signal.’

Peggy Fleming, Minnesota’s Democratic lieutenant governor, praised the decision. 

Finke, seen here in the Minnesota legislature, drew heavy criticism from some outposts for her selection

Finke, seen here in the Minnesota legislature, drew heavy criticism from some outposts for her selection

Finke, who has two children, has fought for transgender rights at a time when her state has become a flashpoint in the culture war. 

She serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy, Human Services Policy, Judiciary Finance and Civil Law, and Legacy Finance Committees.

When asked what she wanted other transgender women to know, she said: ‘The trans and LGBTQ community, we have to expand our understanding of what it means to be successful and happy and thriving, but also how to be creative and expansive in how we want the future to look for everyone. 

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‘I think trans people are on the leading edge of that. We are here creating a path forward for everyone, and everyone will benefit from the work that we’re trying to do for our young people.’ 

Two weeks ago, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, signed an executive order protecting the rights of LGBTQ people from Minnesota and other states to receive gender affirming health care.

Finke, who has two children, has fought for transgender rights at a time when her state has become a flashpoint in the culture war

Finke, who has two children, has fought for transgender rights at a time when her state has become a flashpoint in the culture war

Two weeks ago, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, signed an executive order protecting the rights of LGBTQ people from Minnesota and other states to receive gender affirming health care. Finke is pictured in the background at the signing

Two weeks ago, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, signed an executive order protecting the rights of LGBTQ people from Minnesota and other states to receive gender affirming health care. Finke is pictured in the background at the signing

Finke was at the signing of the order and was, unsurprisingly, in support of the move in a tweet.

‘This executive order is necessary because the national attack on trans people is escalating, everyday. Our rights are under attack, now. People are looking for safety, now. And Gov. Walz’s actions today will provide that safety,’ she wrote.

She has created controversy elsewhere, however, with the Daily Caller criticizing her for calling a sexual assault allegation against a member of the indigenous group Honor the Earth toward a minor ‘irrelevant’ when debating getting it funding.  

USA Today described Finke ‘an activist for transgender and LGBTQ+ rights, as well as Black Lives Matter, almost her whole life.’



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