A 75-year-old trans-identified male has won in an unopposed race for Chair of the Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus.
Donnie Anderson, formerly known as Donald, lives in Providence, Rhode Island and serves as a minister at a church in neighboring state Massachusetts. Anderson began to identify as a “woman” in 2018 at the age of 69.
The deadline for the estimated 500 Caucus members to vote in their 2023 elections was Friday, January 26, and results were announced the next day. In a press release from the group penned by Anderson himself, the results were shared: “The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus has elected the Rev. Dr. Donnie Anderson as their new Chair.” Those elected to the positions of Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, and Executive Committee were also named.
Earlier this month, Anderson spoke in a Zoom meeting amongst members of the group and told them, “I don’t want you to vote for me because I am transgender… Please don’t do that. And I hope you won’t vote against me because I am transgender either.”
Anderson also shared that he had already “made arrangements to change some of [his] other commitments” so he could serve as Chair of the group.
The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus was established in November 2019 and is not officially affiliated with the state. The caucus allows anyone who “identifies as a woman or non-binary person” to join, contingent on using “they or she series pronouns.” The website directs “men and those of other identities” to join as associate members. According to their mission statement, they aim to “impact government and political processes in order to ensure equality in power, influence, and economic status for those who identify as and with women.”
Anderson is the former Executive Minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, and is well-known for his advocacy at the State House and his unsuccessful 2022 bid for State Senate. His “gender transition” made public news in 2018 after the then-President of the state’s Council of Churches published a statement supporting him.
The 75-year-old father of four and grandfather of seven is referred to as a “woman” by The Providence Journal who have also been utilizing “she/her” pronouns for him throughout their coverage. They announced the prominent pastor’s intention to “complete [his] transition to becoming a woman” in May of 2018 when he stated that he would be taking a three month sabbatical from his position of Executive Minister.
In September of 2018, The Journal followed up on the report, writing that: “The Rev. Donnie Anderson completed [his] transition to a woman this summer.” The follow-up after he “completed his transition” included that he recalled “a fascination with [his] aunt’s makeup and clothes” as a young boy and revealed that he had been undergoing hormone replacement therapy since 2017 but had not undergone surgery.
He also admitted that his wife was devastated when he “came out” to her. In one interview from 2018, his wife, Debbie Jamieson, described it as “salt in the wound” when boxes of women’s clothes flowed into the house just days after Anderson announced his transition to her.
“I couldn’t stop crying. Couldn’t stop crying,” Jamieson says, recalling that she fled the house two days after Anderson “came out.” Jamieson sought therapy following Anderson’s transition, as did his two daughters. The couple had been married for 23 years.
While Jamieson initially resolved to try and keep the marriage together, Anderson’s Facebook now states that he is “single.”
Despite his wife’s negative reaction, Anderson recalled being content after announcing his transition, and shared that a “rabbi friend from Israel” sent him a gift card to J.Jill, a popular women’s clothing store. After returning from sabbatical, he received another gift card for Nordstrom “from a group of five Rhode Island rabbis.”
Anderson also shared his story on his personal website, again including that his close friends and family were shocked at his announcement of being transgender.
He says after “six long decades,” he “emerged” out of hiding his transgender identity in what he calls his own “exodus,” a reference to the stories from religious texts.
He continues to address his family’s devastation with: “… freedom is never cheap, there is always a price. The cost was not just mine, but the pain was felt by … my beloved family.”
After acknowledging his family’s difficulty, Anderson continued to express positive feelings towards his decision. “I believe that I may be the most blessed person on the planet. It is a joy to share with gatherings that I am living life as the person I was always meant to be.”
In addition to his work in religious institutions and politics, Anderson provides guidance to college students, offering “an inside track on the transgender experience, what it means to decide and act upon the fact of one’s identity –- and to live it openly and proudly.”
Anderson also regularly participates in speaking engagements and offers himself as a public speaker on his website. His recent engagements include events at Brown University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Providence College, Salve Regina University, and the University of Rhode Island.
Since his transition, Anderson has become a vocal activist, sometimes turning up to protest those critical of gender ideology.
Last September, the Cranston Public Library hosted a panel titled “What Your Kids Learn About Gender in School,” organized by the Independent Women’s Network. The panel featured “Billboard” Chris Elston, Candice Jackson, and Nicole Solas. The three discussed “gender ideology in schools, parental transparency, and protecting children from physical mutilation.”
Anderson spoke, and at times yelled, in front of the library in protest of the panel. He said: “I believe with all my heart in free speech. I believe in the market place of ideas. I believe that we should be confronted and talk with people who see the world differently than we do. But, my friends, there is a limit to free speech.”
He railed against the speakers involved in the panel, claiming they were “recruiting people to be part of legislative efforts that will make it more difficult for our children to realize who they are and be who they are and the result of that is going to be that children are going to die. That is an absolute, positive fact.”
Anderson also called the administration of the library “cowards,” and proclaimed they allowed “hate speech.” Photos posted by Anderson on social media show that several of the attendees at the protest were young children.
In response, the Independent Women’s Network published a statement, reiterating that they respect peaceful protestors but “believe in the value and importance of open discussions on one of the biggest issues facing America’s children.”
Earlier this year, Anderson was similarly present at a demonstration outside of a drag queen story hour event held at a local library in support of the event.
Anderson now serves as the minister of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in New Bedford, Massachusetts. On the church’s site, Anderson boasts: “For years my fantasy was to preach openly in a pink clergy shirt, fully expressing the fact that I am a woman. That fantasy is now my REALITY.”
Prior to his current position, Anderson served as a pastor at the Provincetown United Methodist Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a known hub for over-the-top “LGBTQ+” events.
Anderson is also active as a board member for the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists and SAGE RI, a Services and Advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender seniors.
Anderson is the second openly transgender male in New England to be elected to a Democratic position. The other, Stacie Laughton, resigned from his post in December after being charged with stalking a woman who had a protective order against him.
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