Transgender Official Hailed as ‘Woman of the Year’

Times Staff Writer

The California Assembly on Monday honored the first transgender recipient of its “woman of the year” award.

Theresa Sparks, a member of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, was one of 80 women chosen by their Assembly representatives for extraordinary dedication to the community.

Winners in the 17-year Assembly tradition included a college president, a minister, an environmentalist and many volunteers at libraries, hospitals, schools and parks.

Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said he had chosen Sparks for her work as the head of the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club and on the city’s human rights commission.


As a San Francisco County supervisor, Leno worked with Sparks to make the city the first in the nation to insure its employees for such transgender-related health care as mastectomy, hysterectomy and psychiatric counseling.

“She has remarkable intelligence and commitment and tenacity,” said Leno, one of four openly gay members of the Assembly.

Leno said Sparks’ visit to the Capitol will emphasize the need for AB 196, his bill to ban discrimination against transgender people in housing and employment.

The bill passed the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee last week and now faces a vote in the full Assembly.

Like the other honorees, Sparks received a plaque and posed for photographs with Assembly Speaker Herb J. Wesson Jr. (D-Culver City).

“She was welcomed by one and all,” said Leno. “I was very pleased.”