BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Next week, Travis Hendrix and Sylvia Swayne will face one another to become the next Alabama state representative for House District 55.

However, the path to candidacy was not one that Swayne, the first transgender woman in Alabama history to run for state office, had anticipated. 

“There were a number of bills that I opposed this year, and one in particular made it out of the health committee, and in that same week I decided to call my representative and found that I didn’t have one anymore,” Swayne said. “And I just realized, there’s gonna be a special election. I gave it some thought, talked to a lot of folks – my mom, my partner, so many folks – and just decided to go for it.”

According to her campaign website, Swayne was born into a military family and raised by a single mother. Swayne’s campaign has been marked by goals to expand Medicaid, reform the criminal justice system, strengthen neighborhoods and revolutionize education. 

Swayne’s campaign has made waves, resulting in profiles published in Teen Vogue and Newsweek.

“I never saw myself running for office, but truly I just feel we’ve gotta show people what’s possible, especially young people,” she said. “We see young people every day just burnt out on politics before they even vote for the first time. And we’ve gotta show people that young people can be part of this, too. And it’s gonna take young candidates.”

“People think of us as this outsider, but I was born and raised in Alabama,” she said. “In fact, there are more transgender people, both minors and adults, in the Southeast, than any other region in the United States. And it’s important for folks to know that we are people, just like anyone else.”

The runoff election for District 55 will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 24.