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Providence City Council's new chief of staff is the highest ranking transgender official in Rhode Island history

 Nearly 70 people gathered at Providence City Hall to meet and celebrate June Rose, the newly appointed chief of staff of the Providence City Council and the highest-ranking transgender staffer in Rhode Island history.

Rose, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, held an LGBTQ+ meet and greet office hour for constituents and members of the broader Rhode Island community opportunity on Tuesday, March 12. In their opening remarks, Rose, who grew up in Providence, described being bullied out of their religious middle school as a child before coming into their own as a college student in New Orleans and breaking into politics as an intern for former governor Lincoln Chafee, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator Jack Reed.

“I never thought I would end up in a role like this, as the first trans chief of staff with the first queer Providence City Council president,” said Rose, who made it a point to explain that their own lived experience of transphobic prejudice has opened up pathways of solidarity for them to fight for all marginalized people. “Queer kids are so often taught to dream of surviving. Not all of us can dream of succeeding.”

However, people like Rose are working hard to change that. Later on in their remarks, Rose pointed out that often in their career, they have been a “first;” before being named the first trans person to serve as Providence’s chief of staff, they were the first trans campaign manager to manage a statewide political campaign in Rhode Island. They said their hope was to serve as a role model and reference point for the people who will follow in their footsteps.

“I have always rejected the notion that I need to choose between living authentically and working professionally to make a safer world,” they said. “Let me be clear: I am not the chief of staff despite who I am, but because of who I am.”

Alexis Thompson, who identifies as queer and attended the event in part due to her work as the administrative lead for The Womxn Project, said, “I think just the main effect [of Rose being named chief of staff] would obviously just be to show that it's possible for those people to get those positions because I mean for me typically too, I would think that cis white males are in all of those positions, so I mean it's really beneficial and promising I think to see someone like June fulfill that role.”

After nearly a decade working on important Democratic party campaigns all over the country – including a stint in Matt Gaetz’s district in Florida, where rampant transphobia is often on full display – Rose made their initial homecoming to Rhode Island to run the Democratic party’s statewide get out the vote operation in 2022 before being offered the chief of staff job. They cited affordable housing as their biggest political priority, saying that their personal experience of finding an apartment and signing a lease after accepting the job in Providence was eye-opening.

They said, “I had to go through the housing search myself, and I was horrified by the cost, but here, our problems are deeper than cost. There are some cities where the problem with housing is that it’s unsafe. And there's some cities where it's too expensive. And there's some cities where there's not enough of it. In Providence, we have all three.”

Rose is clearly a very accomplished professional, but they are also kind, humble, and down to earth. A big reality TV lover, they recommended to Options readers season eight of MTV’s “Are You the One?” They laughed a little as they explained the show, saying, “There's one queer season; it is incredibly messy and also really beautiful and affirming while still having all the drama that we love in reality TV.”

They encouraged constituents to reach out at any time, stating a goal of having the most accessible city council in the history of Providence to both the queer community and the community as a whole, and also encouraged people to look up who represents their ward, to attend community meetings, and to aggregate their collective power to make their voices heard.


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