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First transgender woman to run for Florida State Senate dies from cancer

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 4:28 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Melina Rayna Barratt lost her battle with thyroid cancer Tuesday night although her legacy lives on.

“And anytime she came to our campus she was making it a better place,” said Sarah Blanc, the Civic Engagement and Service specialist at Santa Fe College. She kept Barratt at close quarters to keep students engaged in social justice; an area Barratt was heavily involved with

“Because she could draw in any student with her warmth and her outgoing personality and get them engaged in a discussion about important issues,” added Blanc. “And also, one of the biggest reasons that I loved bringing Melina around our students is she was such a role model for using your power.”

Barratt wanted to use her power to fight for equity for all women by running for public office. She was running for the 5th district State Senate seat as a Democrat against Republican Jennifer Bradley.

“Vote for Melina despite the fact that she’s crossed over,” added Lakey Love, the secretary of Florida National Organization for Women.

As the Legislative Director of FL NOW, Barratt traveled to Tallahassee for the legislative session to be a voice for marginalized communities.

“(Barrett) was never ashamed of saying she’s a trans woman,” said Love. “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.”

Members of the FL NOW have set up a GoFundMe page for Barratt’s family to help pay for the cost of a memorial service.

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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