Eleanor McDonough: Leading From Behind the Scenes

Eleanor McDonough. Courtesy photo.

Unlike the others on this list, Eleanor McDonough doesn’t want to be seen. She definitely wants to be heard, but only by a handful of people at a time.

This profile is a part of our series The DeSantis Defiers - Meet the 5 LGBT Activists Giving the Governor Hell. Read more here.

That’s because McDonough is a legislative aide for Florida Rep. Rita Harris, a Democrat representing the area around the Orlando Airport, Sea World, and Universal. To her knowledge, McDonough is the only transgender person working in the state Capitol in Tallahassee.

Legislative aides are most effective when they’re whispering in the ears of lawmakers, not protesting outside the Capitol. But McDonough’s job is made tougher by the demographics of the state House and Senate.

The Republican super majority makes it difficult to pass pro-LGBT legislation – and challenge proposals harming that same community.

“In 2021, I spoke with the chairman of the Education and Employment Committee, Chris Latvala, during the trans youth athlete ban discussion,” McDonough recalls. “He's the only Republican that ever sought me out to have a conversation about any of these bills.”

McDonough isn't giving up, but she is speaking up this one time. She needs help.

“Sitting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media and making posts out to your echo chamber might make you feel OK, but the activism begins on the streets,” she says. “It begins by talking to your lawmakers. It begins with getting petitions signed for things like the codification of abortion rights and reproductive rights on the state constitution. It begins with making sure that our Democratic candidates are well-supported going into the next election cycle – not just incumbents, but people that run for office as well. These districts are fairly well gerrymandered, and it's going to take a lot to overcome, but if people band together and do the work, then we can change outcomes moving forward.”

Finally, McDonough doesn’t want the distinction she has in Tallahassee.

“We need more queer people in politics,” she says. “There are a few of us that are really heavily involved in Democratic politics, but we know we need more. We live in a state with millions and millions of people, but I always see the same people doing the work.”

“We need reinforcements.”

Follow her on Twitter.

Check out more activists:

Wayne Besen

Zander Moricz

Javier Gomez

Darcel Stevens


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


Corrections: editorial@outsfl.com

2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



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