ColumnsUnapologetically Trans

Kamala Harris Is Not Transphobic

Why are white fauxgressive transgender peeps hating on the Democratic VP pick?

Kamala Harris

Senator Kamala Harris was my first choice for president when she announced that she was running on January 21, 2019. She has been on my political radar since the early 2000s when I saw her speak as a member of a criminal-justice panel during one of Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union events.

I was so impressed by her that I made a mental note to keep up with this then-San Francisco district attorney, because I had a hunch she was a political star in the making. 

I watched her continue to blaze trails as California’s attorney general, and then as the second Black female U.S. senator in American history. I was overjoyed when she was named as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate last month.

But literally hours after the announcement was made, I was not happy to hear the smears coming from white transgender fauxgressives who were attacking her as “transphobic.” It was also interesting to note that most of those ticked-off trans peeps were former Sanders and Warren supporters.

One trans person even posted (before I had a chance to screenshot the comment and read their behind) that “Kamala is a trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF).”

So Moni is about to “reclaim her time,” as my Aunt Maxine would say, and blow up the lies and distortions about Kamala Harris’ record. Let’s get to the reality of where Kamala Harris stands when it comes to trans-specific issues.

I’ll start with the July 2006 two-day conference she organized to come up with ways to push back and defeat the “trans-panic defense” that murderers of trans people often use in court. That conference was attended by over 200 prosecutors and law-enforcement officials from across the nation.

In 2014, as the California attorney general, she supported AB 2501, a bill authored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla that banned the use of the trans- and gay-panic defense in California. She also joined with other attorneys general in several states to submit the 2016 amicus brief in opposition of North Carolina’s transphobic HB 2.

Then as a California senator, Harris filed a federal bill to ban the use of the trans- and gay-panic defense nationwide. She has repeatedly called out anti-trans violence aimed at Black trans women, and expressed her vehement opposition to Trump’s anti-trans ban on trans members serving in the military. 

Now let’s address the persistent lie that Harris ”opposed surgery for trans inmates.”

The California AG office is the designated attorney for all California state agencies. That means when any agency goes to court on an issue, the AG’s office represents them.

The California AG office is the largest state attorney’s office in the nation, with five divisions and over 1,000 attorneys working for it. As Attorney General from 2011 until 2017, Harris was in an executive position heading up several layers of management above the state attorneys who actually try those cases. 

So when a trans inmate filed a case to force the California Department of Corrections to allow her to have gender confirmation surgery (GCS) while incarcerated, Harris’ office was obligated to defend the state’s Department of Corrections.

When Harris discovered this anti-trans case was happening, she worked behind the scenes to change the policy so that this inmate could have GCS surgery.

So, news flash for all you Kamala haters: responsibility for what goes on in the California prison system falls on Governor Gavin Newsom, and the last time I checked, y’all weren’t calling him a transphobe over
this case.

This article appears in the September 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Monica Roberts

Monica Roberts, a native Houstonian, is the founding editor of the GLAAD award-winning blog TransGriot. Her ongoing mission is to educate people on the lives of transgender people and fight for everyone’s human rights.
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