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LGBT History Month profile: Victoria Kolakowski, first openly transgender U.S. trial judge

via Equality Forum
Friday, October 21, 2011

Victoria Kolakowski, Judge
b. August 29, 1961

“I have been very fortunate to have a successful career as a public servant, and I feel an obligation to serve my community as a role model as well.”

Victoria Kolakowski is the first openly transgender person to be elected a trial judge in the United States.

Victoria Kolakowski

Born in Queens, New York, Kolakowski graduated from Stuyvesant High School. She was the first person in her family to attend college. Kolakowski earned master’s degrees in biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, public administration and divinity. She received a law degree from Louisiana State University.

In 1990, Kolakowski moved to Berkeley, California. She served on the Oakland Budget Advisory Committee and was an administrative law judge for the California Public Utilities Commission.

In 1994, the East Bay Lesbian/Gay Democratic Club named her Woman of the Year. In 1995, she received the Outstanding Woman of Berkeley Award.

In 2010, Kolakowski campaigned for a judgeship on the Superior Court of Alameda County, California. She won by 10,000 votes. Her victory was significant, not only for the transgender community, but also for women, who occupy a small percentage of judgeships. She received Equality California’s Equality and Justice Award.

Kolakowski co-chaired the Transgender Law Center, an organization dedicated to the well-being and protection of transgender individuals. She serves on the California Council of Churches and is a volunteer clergy member at the New Spirit Community Church.

In 2004, Kolakowski married Cynthia Laird, editor for the Bay Area Reporter. The couple lives in Oakland, California.

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Filed under: LGBTQ Life

15 more reader comments:

  1. Proud to have voted for her last year!

    Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 10:17pm
  2. Interestingly, she transitioned from being a man to a woman with gender reassignment surgery, and is now living as a married lesbian. You might think a person’s head would be swimming with such a case of dysphoria, yet she’s as down to earth as you could ever imagine. Kudos to Judge Kolakowski!

    Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 10:17pm
  3. I have a friend that I watched go from being a “supposedly” normal straight married man and father, and over time, transitioned into being a divorced woman, and she is also a lesbian, and she explained to me at the time (and it makes sense if you realize sexuality and gender identity aren’t connected), that about a third of transgendered people are gay in their “correct” gender. Far more than in non-trans people

    Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 10:21pm
  4. COOL

    Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 10:24pm
  5. AWESOME

    Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 10:25pm
  6. we need more women like her!

    Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 11:06pm
  7. Why does anyone think gender and sexuality are linked? There are gay men and women. They should all be straight if gender is related to sexuality. Same goes for transpeople.

    Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 11:15pm
  8. Sadly, some people still have a hard time wrapping their little heads around even being homosexual. There is just a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding about transgender. Alas. But at least we are making progress – every day a little further! :)

    Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 11:31pm
  9. Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 12:25am
  10. Great about Victoria!

    Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 5:04am
  11. Wow…..amazing!

    Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 5:43am
  12. Right On!

    Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 6:53am
  13. wow!

    Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 9:04am
  14. Yes! You go Victoria!

    Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 12:38pm
  15. There’s hope!! Good for you Victoria! What a victory :-)

    Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 3:30pm