Melina Rayna Svanhild Farley-Barratt, a transgender and women's rights activist running to represent North Florida in the Florida State Senate, has died from cancer.
She passed away in hospice care Wednesday, according to friends and colleagues, who've established a GoFundMe account to help her family pay for her memorial service and cremation.
Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe was among those mourning Ms. Farley-Barratt's death.
"We lost a special neighbor. Melina Rayna Farley-Barratt was a fighter, a saint, a mentor, a leader and a friend. May you rest in power, dear sweet Melina," Poe posted on Facebook.
Ms. Farley-Barratt was the legislative director for the National Organization for Women Florida NOW and president of Gainesville Area NOW.
She also was the Democratic candidate for Florida State Senate District 5.
Ms. Farley-Barratt would have faced Republican Jennifer Bradley in the Nov. 3 general election. Bradley is an attorney and business owner who also is the wife of term-limited Dist. 5 Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island.
Bradley offered her condolences to Ms. Farley-Barratt's family and friends.
"I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Melina Rayna Svanhild Farley-Barrett. While I never had the opportunity to meet Melina, she was a passionate advocate for equality whose work was impactful to many. My prayers are with her family and friends during this difficult time,” Bradley said.
Ms. Farley-Barratt and Lakey Love were colleagues at Florida NOW and the co-founders of the Florida Coalition for Trans Liberation.
Love and the Florida NOW team organized the GoFundMe account, which had raised more than $3,000 of its $15,000 goal by Wednesday evening.
Ms. Farley-Barratt was the first transgender woman candidate to run for election as a legislator in the Florida Senate, said Love, Florida NOW secretary.
"Even in ill health, she fought bitterly to stop the bitter discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people," Love said on the GoFundMe page.
Barbara Byram, a friend as well as a candidate for Florida House District 22, was among those mourning Ms. Farley-Barratt on social media.
"A sad day: Melina Rayna Barrett, Democratic candidate for FL Senate Dist 5 has passed on," Byram wrote on her Twitter account Wednesday morning.