McHenry Township Clerk's first openly transgender elected official shares coming out story

McHenry Township Clerk Danielle Aylward paid her taxes in single dollar bills in 2016 as part of a tax protest. She says that sparked her run for McHenry Township Clerk. 

This past year she ran for a second term and won, but leading up to the election she had a tough decision to make. 

For decades Aylward's family and friends have known she was transgender, but in November she officially started going through hormone replacement therapy. 

"I wasn't sure if I was going to get re-elected, but if I did I was either going to have to come out or resign," said Aylward. "I'm not very good at resigning."


Aylward says her oldest granddaughter and daughter are major supporters of hers. However, her granddaughter did not want her to run because she wanted Aylward to go ahead with her change.

A combination of things led her to run for office again. One reason was Kristal Larson. She's the second openly transgender person ever to be elected to a position in Illinois, and she's also a township clerk like Aylward. Larson serves as Avon's clerk. Aylward also says God and timing played a part in her decision to run again.

After winning the election, Aylward came out publicly. She says she's been blown away by the response.

"I can't believe it," Aylward said. "I've had over 200 comments of just congratulations and support. It's been wonderful. It's like a thousand pound weight off my shoulders."