Jennifer Gale, Austinite Transgender Leader, Found Dead

A memorial to Jennifer Gale at City Hall in Austin.

A memorial to Jennifer Gale at City Hall in Austin.

The people of Austin awoke to a shock on Wednesday when they heard that former marine and perennial mayoral candidate Jennifer Gale, had died early that morning.

According to Austin EMS Director Ernie Rodriquez, Jennifer, 44, died from cardiac arrest. EMS employees said that the cold might have been a contributing factor to her death, although they are not certain. Jennifer's body was found outside the First English Lutheran Church near the Austin campus. Jennifer had been occasionally homeless, although so far reports are not indicating if she was recently homeless.

KVUE-TV reported that Fire officials received a call around 7:30 am and spent 30-45 minutes performing CPR.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Jennifer was known as "a quirky Austin personality". Jennifer ran for mayor several times, and had already filed paperwork for the upcoming 2009 race. She had also previously run for city council, governor, and school board in Dallas and Austin.

On Friday Equality Texas released a press statement calling on the state to review the non-discrimination policies for shelters to insure that transgender people can safely use homeless shelters throughout the city. Texas Civil Rights Review reported on the statement, saying that had Jennifer been able to find proper shelter her death might have been avoided.

Austin Mayor Bruce Todd was quoted as saying:

"Jennifer was a constant presence at various public hearings, forums and meetings in Austin and displayed a great love for and interest in our city. Her well-known catchphrase was ‘Keep Austin, Austin.' While Jennifer no longer is here to physically trumpet that slogan, her personification of that expression will never be forgotten."

In 2007 Jennifer's platform for Dallas mayor was the only one calling for legal recognition of gay and lesbian unions and to extend publicly subsidized health benefits to Dallas residents.

We'll keep readers updated as we find out more about Jennifer and how people are honoring her legacy.