CommunityPam's House Blend

First openly transgender person elected to state-level office in the US

This election cycle has brought with it plenty of great news, including this milestone in Hawaii.

A Hawaii woman won a seat on the state Board of Education and, according to national advocacy groups, a place in history as the nation’s highest-ranking transgender elected official.

Kim Coco Iwamoto, a 38-year-old attorney, did not tout her gender status in the campaign but has advocated for transgender youth and related issues. She came in third Tuesday in the competition for three seats on the 14-member board, which governs the islands’ 285 public schools.

Iwamoto would be the highest-ranking openly transgender person elected in the United States, said Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, a Washington-based group that tracks lesbian, gay and transgender candidates and helps fund their campaigns.

Iwamoto, who was born on the island of Kauai and attended a Catholic boys school in Honolulu, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Previously elected transgender candidates in the United States were primarily limited to local seats such as city alderman or council members, Dison said.

Iwamoto is a member of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

This is a truly historic win and marks an important first in the American political landscape. Kim Coco Iwamoto is an outstanding individual with a long history of pro bono legal work and volunteerism benefiting her home state. She will serve the people of Hawaii well.”
— Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality

The hat tip goes to Autumn, who passed along another interesting item to discuss:

New York Plans to Make Gender Personal Choice. The Empire State is seeking a rule change to allow residents to alter the sex listed on their birth certificate — even if they have not had sex-change surgery. This is drawing controversy, as one might expect. (NYT):

Transgender advocates consider the New York proposal an overdue bulwark against discrimination that recognizes an emerging shift away from viewing gender as simply the sum of one’s physical parts. But some psychiatrists and doctors are skeptical of the move, saying sexual self-definition should stop at rewriting medical history.

“They should not change the sex at birth, which is a factual record,” said Dr. Arthur Zitrin, a Midtown psychiatrist who was on the panel of transgender experts convened by the city. “If they wanted to change the gender for all the compelling reasons that they’ve given, it should be done perhaps with an asterisk.”

The change would lead to many intriguing questions: For example, would a man who becomes a woman be able to marry another man? (Probably.) Would an adoption agency be able to uncover the original sex of a proposed parent? (Not without a court order.) Would a woman who becomes a man be able to fight in combat, or play in the National Football League? (These areas have yet to be explored.)

For an opposing take, check out The American Thinker. Autumn notes about the critic of the possible change:

I imagine the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) might disagree with his genetics theory. In the ISNA’s How common is intersex? [here’s an FAQ], there is a significant number of people who don’t fit into the sex bianary of xx or xy.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding