USA Today gives 'Woman of the Year' honor to transgender state lawmaker

"Outnumbered" argued Leigh Finke's honor takes away from other accomplished women on the list.

USA Today honored a transgender lawmaker from Minnesota on its annual "Women of the Year" list.

Democratic State Rep. Leigh Finke is the first openly transgender person to be elected to and serve in the Minnesota legislature. Finke was named "Woman of the Year" for Minnesota despite serving in office for less than three months.

The "Outnumbered" panel discussed the decision Tuesday, arguing that politics has now become more important for these media awards, rather than an individual's achievements. 

"What will ever be left for biological females? … Michelle Obama is also on the list," McEnany told panelists Tuesday. "What does it take for a conservative woman to get on a list like this?"

Leigh Finke first transgender lawmaker in Minnesota

Minnesota voters elected Leigh Finke into the state's House of Representatives, making her the first transgender lawmaker to get voted into office in the state. (


Co-host Emily Compagno said Finke’s placement on the list actually detracted from the honors and accomplishments of the other women who were featured.

"It is so exhausting, in my opinion, to have immutable characteristics or box-checking characteristics be the reason that someone is amplified to that level," Compagno explained. 

"Every day, all day, we see these underserved communities in these challenging times. How many women and men out there, of just all regards, how many humans out there are doing such good work, are trying so hard day after day without recognition?"

Finke acknowledged that she "just got there" – to her role as a Minnesota state representative – and has only been serving a short time.

Fox News contributor Guy Benson noted that there are many extraordinary and accomplished transgender and biological women who deserve to be honored. He argued Finke’s situation, however, is not the case. 

"President Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing, and it's because people wanted to make a political statement. That's what this is," Benson said. 

"This is not about actual achievement or accomplishment, it seems, as this individual seems to admit," he continued. "This is about, ‘there's a culture war, there's a big controversy around trans issues, so let's find some and put them on these lists to make a statement.’"

USA Today made headlines last year for putting transgender Biden administration official Rachel Levine on the list. Earlier this month, first lady Jill Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken presented a transgender woman from Argentina with an award for women on International Women's Day.


In the announcement, USA Today called Finke "an activist for transgender and LGBTQ+ rights, as well as Black Lives Matter, almost her whole life." Finke has also proposed legislation to make Minnesota a "trans refuge" for children seeking gender-affirming care.