Melina Rayna Svanhild Farley-Barratt, the first transgender woman to run for the Florida senate, has died from cancer just weeks before the election.
Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, said Barratt was a “trailblazer and a constant advocate for equality”.
“As the legislative director for the National Organization for Women (NOW) Florida and president of Gainesville Area NOW, she always worked to improve the lives of others and ensure equality for women and transgender people,” Rizzo said.
As well as working for NOW, Farley-Barratt was a trailblazing lobbyist and women’s rights activist well known in Florida’s Capitol.
She was also the Democratic candidate for Florida Senate District 5, a majority Republican north-central Florida district, having decided last year that she could be effective in campaigning for equality as a politician.
She was only the second transgender candidate to qualify for a legislative race in the state and was the first to ever run for the Florida Senate, according to the Advocate.
“Vote for Melina despite the fact that she’s crossed over,” Lakey Love, secretary of Florida National Organization for Women, told WCJB-TV when Farley-Barratt got on the ballot.
“She’s the first trans woman to run for the Florida Senate and a vote for Melina still this voting season is a vote for the power of not only women but for transgender people and active feminists who are fighting patriarchy and misogyny here in the state of Florida.”
Farley-Barratt was in hospice care at the time of her death. She had thyroid cancer and died on Tuesday night (October 13).
Jennifer Bradley, the Republican who Farley-Barrat was running against, offered her condolences on learning that her rival had passed away.
“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.