My name is Paula Overby. I go by female pronouns, she and her. I had a great childhood. All my friends were girls. So from my perspective, I pretty much got to be a girl. Growing up, I didn't really have much perception of gender and sex and all of that till I hit puberty. And then my parents moved me to a school where they separated the boys and the girls. Then it became immediately obvious to me that these were the boys and people thought I was one of them. So then it became you know, probably a fairly normal story of trying to decide what to do with that issue, trying to mask that issue, trying to be one of the boys. And all that worked really well for me for quite a long time. I struggled a lot with sexuality of course. I had a lot of girlfriends, relationships. I wanted girlfriends. I grew up with girls. Looking back on my life, I was constantly looking for female relationships outside of partnerships, outside of sex. But one thing always led to another, I think. So, in college I tried, I thought perhaps I might be gay. I mean none of this language really existed back then. This is in the 70's, mid 70's. It wasn't until the 90s that transgender first appeared and really to describe cross-dressers. So all that language didn't exist. So I tried a male relationship. That ended very badly. We had one date and then he raped me pretty violent rape. So then I kind of, you know after that I was pretty much got withdrawn for a couple of years trying to bury that experience. Finally recovered from that, went back to school, got my degree, got a job in counseling where I was working with a lot of gay men, several gay men. So again I got some exposure to that gay experience. Tried that one more time with a young man up at a cabin in northern Minnesota. The next day he committed suicide in very violent fashion. And so then, I think at that point I felt really responsible for that because I felt that I knew he was gay or I felt he was gay. I knew he wasn't out, not even out to himself and I was the counselor and I was familiar with gay experience. And I just felt horribly responsible for that. And it took long to recover from that as well. At that point, I decided that I was going to be the man. I wanted children, I desperately wanted children. I figured that was the only way I was going to get that. So within a month after that suicide, I had a family. I met a wonderful woman, who had a three year old child and fell in love with both of them. Probably mostly the child. We had two more children after that. Things were difficult. You know, we had a pretty good relationship in the beginning. Later on, we had some very, very stark differences in parenting styles and we dealt with some really difficult issues with respect to abuse, sexual assault, the gender issues. So that eventually ended in divorce. And the divorce was really ugly. They accused me of abusing my son. They used the order for protection process. They took my son, they took my home, basically put me out on the street with nothing. That was pretty devastating and I fought for custody of my son, two years in family court. You know every time I went into court, there was some type of threat, loss of my son, felony charges, attorney's fees, jail time. After two years of that, I was pretty much ready to drink myself to death. And at that point, at one point that was my plan. Then kind of by the grace of God, I was in a really serious car accident right before I was going to sign the divorce papers. The doctor said, "You can quit drinking or you can die." He'd been my doctor for 25 years. I think that's when things kind of turned around. I think that's kind of a normal story too. Transitions tend to happen after that type of trauma or a suicide attempt. So that's when I transitioned. That's when I started fighting back. I got my son back; I got my health back and started transitioning. And so I started, as soon as I got my son back, I started. I was presenting as a woman at that time. That's when I first started presenting as a woman. I'd spent quite a number of years in a period I called the man-in-a-dress days. So I was a man or I presented as a man. I had a mustache, I wore dresses. And socially, it worked very well for me. It allowed me to have relationships with other women, those female relationships and allowed me to keep all those male roles right, husband and father and employer. The divorce - to be isolated and be alone, to be struggling with gender dysphoria and all the stress of that divorce, that kind of led me into engaging in, I guess social welfare issues or social justice issues. So I worked with you know Gay and Lesbian Task Force, I worked with Breaking Free, which is helping women that have been prostituted. I started engaging with the transgender community. Started about halfway through the divorce, I dismissed my attorney and started representing myself. So I started studying the law, started studying about - you know, engaged in abuse advocacy. I'm a trained advocate in both Hennepin County and Dakota County. And then I started - and then the marriage amendment came along. So right at that same time, so that was like in the beginning of 2011, when I first started with the Gay and Lesbian Task Force. They were all - that amendment was starting to work its way through community. So I was engaged with all of that. I spent a lot of time working on the marriage amendment. Did a lot of phone banking. I did a lot of faith outreach because of you know my faith history. And then I worked on domestic partnerships, right. So the - I asked my own city council to pass what was one of the strategies at that time to try and provide some protections for same sex couples. Started one in Eagan, helped support another one in Northfield. The mayor of Eagan was very instrumental in helping me pass that domestic partnership. So that brought me into politics, right. At the same time, I think Obama must have been running that year. So I went for my Democratic Caucus and took over as precinct chair. So now I'm in the DFL. He ran for - the mayor ran for the Senate. I supported his campaign, so I was you know, a delegate for him at this Senate District Convention. Got a real good introduction to politics. Applied to the State Central Committee as a delegate at large. They were trying to expand their program to under-represented groups and I was chosen to represent GLBT. Spent three years, a couple of years with them on several of the state committees. I was on the Party Affairs Committee. I was on the Legislative Committee and the Outreach and Inclusion, and so that was my principal interest was outreach and inclusion. So I spent a lot of time on that, a couple of years engaging with different cultures. Of course, the GLBT community, but probably more so with the African-American culture. And through that experience, I started realizing that there is a serious, serious discrepancy here between our political representation and our minority populations. And I guess I don't call them minorities. I tend to refer to them as marginalized cultures. So even as a trans person, I tend to view myself as a minority within a minority. But any culture that's marginalized and not part of the mainstream political environment, that's GLBT, that's racial issues, that's disability. So there are some, even though each of those groups has their own issues, there are some some common issues in the way they relate to politics. So I decided that I should run for Congress. I ran. I did. In fact the DFL did elect me to a state director. So I made enormous impact in the DFL during that first year. There seemed to be a serious commitment to that. And then I decided run for US Congress in my district, the second district, which is there between the Twin Cities and Rochester. So went through that endorsement process. I didn't get the endorsement. They gave a unanimous endorsement to Michael Overmiller who was running at that time. And through that process, I came to realize what a closed process it is. How marginalized cultures really do not have access to that system of government that we currently we have today. And that's having a huge negative impact on public policy and not just from marginalized culture, but I see it you know creeping farther and farther into the middle class, or what used to be the middle class. So that's when I became an independent. So now I've run twice in that district for the U.S. House as an independent. And that's my focus today, is establishing that independent movement. And a lot of that focus is around just engaging marginalized cultures. I think of politics now today in terms of proportional representation. I think that's what we need. I don't see that either of our two parties can possibly begin to represent the diversity of this culture. And that has really restricted our options, has narrowed our options. We see where people are at today, they are not very happy with our political process. And yet they're still really undecided about how do we change it. So the world has changed, the makeup of our culture, our population has changed, technology has changed. All these things have changed. Our government has not. And so for me that's kind of the final frontier.