Why you want to know her: Alameda County Superior Court Judge Victoria Kolakowski, 55, became the first transgender judge in the nation in 2010. An activist for the LGBT community since coming out publicly in 1989, Kolakowski is widely honored for her work on issues of inclusion. Prior to becoming a judge, Kolakowski was a private attorney who co-authored Berkeley’s public domestic partnership ordinance and co-chaired the board of directors at the Transgender Law Center. She is on the Judicial Council of California’s Advisory Committee on Providing Access and Fairness and is president of the International Association of LGBT Judges. She is preparing to travel through India by invitation of the U.S. State Department to talk about LGBT law and policy. She is a retired minister of the Metropolitan Community Churches and lives in Oakland with her wife, Cynthia Laird, an editor at the LGBT newspaper Bay Area Reporter.
What drives her: Being a role model in a world where trans people are marginalized or viewed by some as “immoral, or emotionally or mentally unstable in some way.” “We are not just vulnerable people,” she said. “We are also people capable of being trusted in positions of authority. But we’re still a colorful novelty, and I want to really dispel that. It’s important that we have transgender people in every walk in life and situation.”
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