JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A powerful political post will be vacated when Florida Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson is term-limited in 2022. And while that may seem a long way off, the District 6 race has officially begun.
Brooklyn Owen, age 20, filed to run as a Democrat and is formally announcing her candidacy Thursday night.
The political newcomer threw her hat into the District 6 senate race early – as what she calls “the underdog.” Expected contenders for the seat include State Representative Tracie Davis and Jacksonville City Councilmember Reggie Gaffney.
“There is a system here in Jacksonville, that people are tapped to run for office," Owen says. "And I’m not the person that they’ve chosen to tap.”
Owen is just the second openly trans woman to run for state Senate – and, if successful, would be the first ever elected.
“I think that there is a progressive movement building here in Jacksonville, and our leaders are slow to reflect that.”
Owen says Jacksonville is evolving – as she too has evolved. First Coast News began reporting on Owen back in 2018, when she was known as Seth Owen, and was kicked out of her parents' home at the time for identifying as gay.
Homelessness put Owen's dreams of attending Georgetown University in jeopardy – until her teachers created a GoFundMe page to help her realize her dreams.
After First Coast News' story ran, it was picked up nationally. Owen was invited to appear on Ellen, even honored by then-Vice President Joe Biden at the annual Human Rights Commission dinner.
“That led to self-discovery that I am not gay, that I am a trans woman,” Owen says. “And as I reflect back, I was a little girl trapped in a boy's body and with a conservative family that did not allow that expression. And this has been a very liberating experience.”
Like a lot of her story, the change has come with challenge.
“It's not easy,” she concedes, “but it is incredibly rewarding.”
But in an odd way, Owen thinks her journey has uniquely prepared her for the bruising world of Tallahassee politics.
“I’m a trans woman living in the South and raised by a very conservative family with three older brothers,” she laughs. “I've tussled with them before, and I understand that it kind of goes the same way [in Tallahassee].”
You can watch tonight's virtual campaign announcement at brooklynowen.com.