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In a first, transgender CA man wins elected post

by Matthew S. Bajko

Adam Spickler is set to join the Cabrillo Community College Board of Trustees in Santa Cruz County in January.
Adam Spickler is set to join the Cabrillo Community College Board of Trustees in Santa Cruz County in January.  

The Golden State is on the verge of having its first transgender male public official.

Adam Spickler is set to join the Cabrillo Community College Board of Trustees in Santa Cruz County in January.

He will represent the college board's Area II seat. The current officeholder, Gary Reece, opted not to run for re-election this November to the oversight body.

Spickler planned to release a statement later tonight (Wednesday, August 15), but in a Facebook message to the Bay Area Reporter shortly after the filing deadline had closed at 5 p.m., he confirmed that no one filed to run against him.

Since he was the only person to seek the seat by the deadline to do so, Spickler will now be appointed to the college board in lieu of an election. He will become the first transgender man to hold public office in California.

Two transgender women have won elected office in the state. Judge Victoria Kolakowski in 2010 first won a seat on the Alameda County Superior Court and was unopposed in 2016 for a second, six-year term. And last November Lisa Middleton won a seat on the Palm Springs City Council.

Martin Rawlings-Fein could become the first elected male transgender public official in the state should he succeed in his bid this November for a seat on San Francisco's school board. The married father would be the first transgender male elected in the city as well as the first bisexual man to win elective office in San Francisco.

Mia Satya is also seeking a San Francisco school board seat this fall. If successful, she would be the first transgender woman to win elective office in the city.

Spickler, 47, lives in Santa Cruz and works for the county human services department as a senior analyst. His husband, Scottie Johnson, is also a trans man and works as a medical assistant for the transgender health care program offered by Planned Parenthood in Santa Cruz.

As he told the Bay Area Reporter in July (http://www.ebar.com/news/news/263148), Spickler did not run for the college board purposefully to make LGBT political history. Nonetheless, he recognizes the importance of his being the first trans male public official in the Golden State.

Spickler was a student at Cabrillo for eight years, prior to transitioning, and graduated in 2002 with an associate degree in early childhood education. The community college is based in Aptos and serves all of Santa Cruz County.

He worked for a time in the education field before becoming an aide to gay former assemblyman John Laird, the first and only out person to have served on the Cabrillo college board, in his district office in Santa Cruz.

When Laird, currently the California secretary for natural resources, was termed out of office, his successor, Bill Monning, retained Spickler on his staff. One of the areas Spickler focused on for the assemblyman was K-12 and higher education issues.

In a 2013 interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Spickler spoke publicly for the first time about his transitioning while working for Monning. As the paper reported, he was one of two transgender legislative staffers to transition their gender identities after being hired.

For the last seven years Spickler had waited to see if Reece, a Republican first appointed to the college board 25 years ago, would retire. This spring he decided to seek the seat no matter if Reece ran for re-election.

Having been a marginalized student at Cabrillo, not only for being queer but also due to being poor - he, at one point, was homeless - Spickler now wants to be a voice for the college's current students who are struggling with the same issues.

"I feel it is really important for me to give back," Spickler told the B.A.R. earlier this summer. "I wanted to do so in a way that provides equal access to education to other marginalized students who are trying to access this college."

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