Haney unveils CA trans history month resolution

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday September 6, 2023
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Assemblymember Matt Haney, center, spoke at a news conference in Sacramento September 6 about his resolution to designate August as Transgender History Month in California. Photo: Screengrab<br>
Assemblymember Matt Haney, center, spoke at a news conference in Sacramento September 6 about his resolution to designate August as Transgender History Month in California. Photo: Screengrab

The California State Assembly has proclaimed August as Transgender History Month — making the Golden State the first state in the nation to do so.

House Resolution 57 was authored by straight ally Assemblymember Matt Haney (D), who represents San Francisco's eastside, including the Transgender District, the first cultural district of its kind in the world. (Haney used to directly represent the district when he represented District 6 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors; the trans district has since been moved to District 5.)

The legislation, which was voted on September 6, does not need Senate approval. The resolution passed 58-0, Haney communications director Nate Allbee stated. GOP members opted not to vote on the matter.

Haney told the Bay Area Reporter it had been the goal to do it before this year's Transgender History Month, "but legislatively we were not able to, as the Legislature is not in session for much of August."

Now that it's been approved, the first official recognition will be next year.

San Francisco has declared August as Transgender History Month for the past several years.

"We were on recess July 15-August 15," Haney explained. "We submitted language the week we returned in August during trans history month, it required amendments, and today was the day it was ready to be presented on the floor with trans leaders able to attend. ... And it gives us time to plan a big event and celebration for next year."

Indeed, trans leaders were able to expound upon the importance of Haney's resolution at a downtown Sacramento news conference before the vote.

Haney's district director, Honey Mahogany, is a Black queer trans person who said she was attending the news conference as both a Haney staffer and in her capacity as chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party.

Mahogany framed the resolution as part of the fight against transphobia in the state; just earlier in the day, a judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of a forced outing policy for trans and nonbinary students in a Southern California school district, as the B.A.R. reported.

"All across this country we have been seeing attacks on the trans community, but it's not just in other states," Mahogany said. "Even here in California, where we have a sanctuary state, overwhelmingly Democrats representing us in the Capitol, we are still seeing acts of violence and attempts to legislate against our community."

Mahogany said hopefully state recognition of trans history month will help "educate people about who we are and what we need."

Haney followed, saying, "As long as there's been a California there have been transgender people here." He said the first record of trans people in California comes from 1775, when Pedro Fages, a Spanish soldier, wrote about people who he encountered near San Diego whom he described as "those Indian men who, both here and farther inland, observed in the dress, clothing, and character of women. ... They are called joyas, and they are held in great esteem."

Haney also discussed Charley Parkhurst, a trans stagecoach driver "whose life story was celebrated in the popular television show 'Death Valley Days,' hosted by former Governor Ronald Reagan."

Haney said that the state was following the lead of San Francisco, which in 2021 became the first city to declare August as Transgender History Month because the Compton's Cafeteria Riot — an uprising against police harassment of drag performers, trans and gender-nonconforming people — took place there in 1966, three years before the more famous Stonewall riots in New York City that are viewed as the birth of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. The exact date in August of that year when the riot occurred has yet to be determined.

San Francisco trans activist Jupiter Peraza had pushed for the city designation. Peraza said during the news conference that "history will be made today."

"Transgender history is not exclusive to San Francisco; it is everywhere, it is certainly throughout the entire state," Peraza said. "It is history that dates back to the Gold Rush era and it is history that has played a monumental role shaping the state of California into what it is today."

Carlo Gomez Arteaga, a trans man and co-executive director of San Francisco's Transgender District, which is largely in the Tenderloin, said about Haney that "it's great to have an ally here in Sacramento that we can count on."

"The roots that we have in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco go back years, years, but we want folks to know that the history in the Tenderloin neighborhood is San Francisco's history and San Francisco's history is California's history and so we thank today those who will vote to acknowledge this," he said.

Updated, 9/6/23: This article has been updated to indicate the resolution passed.

Updated, 9/7/23: This article has been updated with the vote tally.

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