First Transgender State Board Member, First Lesbian Fire Chief

From The Guerrilla Angel Report by Lexie Cannes, February 18, 2012

Board Member Sasha Buchert and Fire Chief Erin Janssens. (Photos: BRO/Willamette Week)

Board Member Sasha Buchert and Fire Chief Erin Janssens. (Photos: BRO/Willamette Week)

And these appointments occurred quietly, seemingly without anyone batting an eye. And this is how it should be done — selected without public attention to gender identity or sexual orientation. I’m making note of here to measure how far we’ve come, at least here in Portland and in the state of Oregon.

Trans woman, and spokes person for Basic Rights Oregon, Sasha Buchert was appointed to the Oregon State Hospital Advisory Board by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. This action appears to make her the first openly transgender Oregonian appointed to a state board. Buchert: “I’m very proud to crack that barrier if its true I’m first.”

Also, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard appointed current Fire Marshal Erin Janssens to be the first-ever female fire chief. While the decision surprised some within the department, but not too many people are second guessing Commissioner Leonard because after all, he was a firefighter himself for the city and also served as their union president for 12 years before being elected to city hall. Janssens who was one of the first female firefighters hired by the city says about her gender and sexual orientation: “That hasn’t been an issue at all. We work together really well in the Fire Bureau.”

More about the fire chief selection from Willamette Week: Chief Looks Like A Lady: Erin Janssens named Portland Fire & Rescue’s first-ever female chief.

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