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Indiana county councilman comes out as woman of color

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — In a recent Facebook post, Delaware County Councilman Ryan Webb announced he now identifies as a Black woman. He clarified with I-Team 8 he identifies as an American Indian woman.

While Webb has received some support, he says he’s been facing backlash, including violent threats.

“I’m hoping that this individual is not making a mockery of what it means to be more in a marginalized community, but I have a feeling that that’s exactly what is happening,” said Dana Black, political strategist and host of the “Turn Left” podcast.

Webb declined an interview but gave this statement to I-Team 8:

“Our family has been receiving violent threats throughout the day from intolerant liberals who refuse to accept my decision to live my life however I choose. I don’t really see how an interview will improve the situation.

“It is unfortunate, but a group called Indiana Progressives has decided to organize a hate and harassment campaign against me and my family by publishing my address and encouraging people to unlawfully congregate at my home. You can read their comments on my public post. I have to look out for the safety of my family, including our 6 children. There are people with serious mental health issues encouraging people who are unwelcome to come to my home, so I think it’s best to politely decline your on-camera interview.

“It is unfortunate that I cannot simply be given the same space and respect to explore my identity that so many of those targeting me demand for themselves. I have announced my position and that has not changed. I do not need anyone to approve or validate who I am for me to live my life the way I choose. I don’t feel like an on-camera interview is necessary or warranted. I’m simply living my life without concern for what others may think about my own personal decisions.

“I have recently decided to live my life however I choose to identify which happens to be as a woman of color. My American Indian heritage is not up for debate, although many would like it to be. It’s possible I may change my mind down the road. The process of identity exploration is complex and often times at the end of our personal journey we end right back where we started.

“I hope that in the future those asking for tolerance and understanding are willing to give it in return and not just to those who they feel is worthy of it. Nobody has the authority to validate or invalidate any individual who chooses to identify a certain way.

Delaware County Councilman Ryan Webb

Webb, a Republican, said in his Facebook post, “To avoid confusion, everyone can continue to address me as Ryan or as Councilman Webb. I will also retain my preferred pronouns of he/him, however, this will in no way diminish my true identity as a woman of color.”

“Who wouldn’t want to be a Black woman? But in reality, when you’re taking up space that should be for Black women, that is problematic,” Black said. “I think he’s a nonfactor. There are real issues that people need to be focusing on, policies that are going to impact lives. Unless he’s writing a policy that is going to harm communities, that shouldn’t be our focus.”

I-Team 8 has reached out to the Indiana Progressives organization for a response to the negative comments toward Webb, but the organization was unable to be reached.

This story has been updated to correct Webb’s political party.