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

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

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.

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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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