As of 2019, 4.5 percent of Americans identify as LGBT+; however, only two Senators and eight Representatives (a cumulative 1.9 percent of the 116th Congress) currently identify this way. Five of the ten openly LGBT+ members of Congress are female.
Unless greater numbers of LGBT+ people are elected to office, LGBT+ underrepresentation will only become more pronounced: according to recent Gallup polling, 8.1 percent of millennials identify as LGBT+. More openly LGBT+ representatives must be elected in order to accurately represent a growing population of LGBT+ constituents.
In 1998, Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) became the first openly lesbian person elected to the House of Representatives, and she became the first openly gay or lesbian person elected to the Senate in 2012. The same year, Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) was elected as the first openly bisexual member of the House of Representatives.
No transgender person has ever been elected to the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. The first transgender member of a state legislature, Althea Garrison, was elected in Massachusetts in 1992, though her gender identity was not widely known during her campaign. In 2008, Stu Rasmussen was elected mayor of Silverton, Oregon, becoming the first openly transgender mayor elected in the U.S.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown became the first openly bisexual governor when she was appointed to the position in 2015, and was elected in her own right in 2016.
In 2019, Sharice Davids (D, KS-03) became the first LGBT+ Native American in the U.S. House of Representatives.