The New York Times reported yesterday that "Transgender Candidate Is New Judge."
The The Oakland Tribune, a local paper, reported that "Alameda County has become home to the first transgender trial judge in the country as Victoria Kolakowski won the race to fill an empty seat on the county's Superior Court bench."
CNN put her on a website of "intriguiging people."
The San Francisco Chronicle ran the story a few days ago as "An Alameda County Superior Court election remained undecided Wednesday, with Victoria Kolakowski - who would become the nation's first transgender judge - holding a slight lead over John Creighton."
Is Judge Kolakowski a judge, or a transgender judge? Is Clarence Thomas a Supreme Court Justice, or a black judge? Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg a judge, or a lady judge?
I'm reminded of what Dr. Johnson reputedly said: ""Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."
I both understand and appreciate the sentiments that motivated this reporting. I sense a desire to report on a first -- a successful transgender judicial candidate -- and to do so in a sensitive manner. Kudos for that. And Judge Kolakowski hasn't exactly discouraged that, with a special section on her election website entitled "Making History."
But at the same time, I cannot help but notice that there is a certain quality of looking at her as a specimen, what has been called, in other contexts, "exoticization" and "medicalization."
I'm not complaining. Just sayin'. I think it's a meme worth noting. By the way, Ms. Kolakowski has a heck of a resume. This woman has more degrees than a thermometer, and an incredible amount of high-quality legal experience. But few media stories are discussing that. This is the fate of a first. No one discussed Amanda Simpson's experience either.
Specimen: a portion or quantity of material for use in testing, examination, or study.
Hey, she got elected, and it's any port in a storm. But gosh, I look forward to the day when I'm old and gray, and tell some little teeny boppers about the days when the first transgender judge was elected, and how everyone made such a fuss. They'll look bored at this piece of ancient history, and talk about the latest flying cars, or whatever, and I will be left to my dreams of the old days.