At age 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever to win a seat in Congress.
That’s a historic event, to be sure, but it’s caused some confusion as staffers in the halls of the U.S. Capitol building don’t seem to understand she’s a Congresswoman-elect, and not an intern or spouse of a lawmaker, according to reporting from Business Insider.
Ocasio-Cortez has detailed her time so far during the orientation for members-elect, writing several times on her Twitter account on Wednesday that she had been confused for someone else at many junctures.
“People keep giving me directions to the spouse and intern events instead of the ones for members of Congress,” she wrote in one tweet.
In another tweet, she pointed out that she was “stopped” from attending a separate event because “it was assumed I was an intern/staffer.”
She explained in more detail another incident in which two separate events — one for spouses of Democratic lawmakers and one for members of the newly-elected House of Representatives — were taking place at the same time, in two separate places. “I was sent to spouse event,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
When someone online didn’t believe her, she tweeted them back, writing they should “try believing women + people of color when they talk about their experiences being a woman or person of color.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she keeps being mistaken for an intern during her first week on Capitol Hill https://t.co/2ynVrKz0CK— Business Insider (@businessinsider) November 15, 2018
At least one member of Congress did believe Ocasio-Cortez’s story. A fellow member of Congress, Grace Meng, who is also a Democratic National Committee vice chair, tweeted back to Ocasio-Cortez and explained the same thing still happens to her — even though she’s been in office since 2013.
“This is what happens when you’re a young WOC in Congress — but it shouldn’t,” Meng wrote. “I’m excited you’re here, @Ocasio2018! Let’s work to make this the new normal.”
Ocasio-Cortez made major headlines when she ran against and defeated Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District in the Democratic primary. Crowley at the time was the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, according to reporting from CNBC. Ocasio-Cortez’s win against Crowley all but assured her a spot in Congress, as the district leans heavily and reliably “blue.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s youth may seem unfamiliar to many in Congress — she was born the same year that the Berlin Wall fell in Germany — but it’s fast becoming the new normal, and the new face of the electorate, as time goes by. While the “youth” vote turnout was only 31 percent according to Teen Vogue, the number of voters for that generation will likely continue to go upward, as more and more Millennials and members of Generation Z find themselves to be politically inclined.