In 2016, Wisconsin Democrat Ryan Solen faced off against Republican incumbent Paul Ryan for a seat in the House of Representatives. Ryan beat Solen by a large margin, 65 percent to 30 percent, and Solen has passed up another run. But now, several months later, Solen has a major announcement: Her name is Rebecca Solen, and she is a transgender woman.
Earlier this month, Solen came out to her supporters in a Facebook post, revealing her gender identity and legal name change. Solen first told her wife shortly after the election, writing a letter about her need to transition as a transgender woman.
Since childhood, Solen knew something was wrong with her body, but she didn’t understand what could be the cause. After losing the November election, Solen’s gender dysphoria reappeared in full force. Dealing with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts, Solen knew she couldn’t keep hiding from her need to transition any longer.
“Do I want to keep pushing the façade of Ryan?” Rebecca Solen told the Journal Times. “Do I want to keep driving this idea that I continue to be what society expects based on what they see?”
So, let's provide another surprise to the group, though I think some of you already know. Guess what?I'm…Posted by Rebecca Solen, former candidate for Congress on Thursday, June 15, 2017
Solen says that many transgender women feel these conflicting emotions when first considering coming out. “Eventually, it comes to a point where they wonder: Who am I really? And then they have to say something,” she said. “They have to. Because if you don’t, it’s going to drive you to that point of self-destruction.”
Solen began therapy in January and officially changed her legal name in May. Having now socially transitioned, Solen wants to work as a transgender activist, stepping away from congressional elections to instead fight for trans peoples’ rights across the nation.
“It’s a normalization thing,” Solen explained. “A lot of people see this as something that’s way outside the norm, when we’re just people who really are more normal than you think.”